How will habitat changes arising from climate change impact the Emperor penguin population?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Climate change is rapidly changing the environment of Antarctica through warmer air and ocean temperatures, changes in sea-ice distribution, and associated cascades in the food web. Emperor penguins need the marine ecosystem and sea-ice for survival, hence are extremely sensitive to habitat changes. The climatic changes occurring will alter the predictability of their habitat and have a range of effects on the survival of emperor penguin populations. Environmental change is complex, and its impacts on organisms are difficult to predict but numerous studies have identified sea-ice as a main critical factor in the future survival of the emperor penguin. Sea-ice has flow on effects in a variety of life aspects. These include loss of suitable habitat at latitudes lower than 70°S which will force populations to move southward, alterations in primary production that will shift food web dynamics, and impacts on reproductive success. A lack of long term population data limits the accuracy of predictions and more research is needed in order to better understand how the population will change.
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