Penguin Poundage – Antarctic macaroni penguins’ population has dropped 50%

Penguin Poundage – Antarctic macaroni penguins’ population has dropped 50% – Brief Article

Something is killing the macaroni penguins of the Antarctic. Since the late 1970s, the population of these predatory birds has plummeted by 50 percent. To keep tabs on penguin fitness, scientists are setting up a camouflaged station to study the animals as they waddle around. Ecologist Kate Barlow and her colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey created a five-foot-long bridge that measures a passing bird’s weight in less than a second. A hidden bar-code reader also identifies the individual if it is one of the 200 macaroni in the 1,000-member colony that the researchers have tagged. The bridge should reveal how much food each adult penguin carries to its young when it returns from fishing. That information will help reveal whether the macaroni are victims of competing predators, a change in prey, or a climate disruption. * “We’re looking at how much food all the predators in this part of the Antarctic need,” says Barlow. “Eventually, we hope that will help ensure that fishing by humans can go on as well.”

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