Friday, 24 Mar 2023

Australian scientists observe rapid decline in Adlie penguin numbers off Antarctic coast

Australian scientists observe rapid decline in Adlie penguin numbers off Antarctic coast


Australian scientists observe rapid decline in Adlie penguin numbers off Antarctic coast

Scientists at the Australian Antarctic Division have recorded a severe decline in a population of Adélie penguins off the east Antarctic coast.

Long-term monitoring has revealed a 43% drop over a decade in the number of birds that breed across 52 islands near the Mawson research station.

The scientists say the decline is a stark contrast to other Adélie penguin populations in east Antarctica where numbers have been stable or increasing.

It is also contrary to models that had predicted a continued increase in this particular population, as had occurred in previous decades.

To collect the data, seabird ecologists surveyed the islands along a 100km stretch of coastline every year from 2010 to 2020 to monitor breeding pairs.

They found the number of occupied nests fell from 176,622 to 99,946, which translates to a decline of about 77,000 nests or 154,000 breeding birds.

Dr Louise Emmerson, a seabird ecologist, said the sharp drop in numbers was similar to the declines seen in Adélie populations on the Antarctic peninsula, where the effects of fishing, climate change and other human activities have been most evident on the species.

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