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Whaling and climate change led to 100 years of feast or famine for Antarctic penguins

Source: lsu.edu

New research reveals how penguins have dealt with more than a century of human impacts in Antarctica and why some species are winners or losers in this rapidly changing ecosystem.

Michael Polito, assistant professor in LSU’s Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences and his co-authors published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which is available on Monday, Dec. 2.

“Although remote, Antarctica has a long history of human impacts on its ecosystems and animals. By the early to mid-1900s, humans had hunted many of its seals and whales nearly to extinction. Seal and whale populations are now recovering, but decades of climate change and a growing commercial fishing industry have further degraded the environment,” Polito said.

Polito co-led a team of researchers from Louisiana State University, University of Rhode Island, University of Oxford, University of California Santa Cruz, and the University of Saskatchewan with the goal of understanding how human interference in Antarctic ecosystems during the past century led to booms and busts in the availability of a key food source for penguins: Antarctic krill. MORE

Header image: Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins in waters around the Antarctic Peninsula. Credit: Rachael Herman.

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