A new study shows that, unlike what researchers previously thought, emperor penguins may not return to the same location to nest every year. This could be good news for penguins as it may allow them to adapt to changing environmental conditions better than expected.
Using high-resolution satellite images, researchers found six instances in three years in which emperor penguins did not return to the same nesting location. In fact, they discovered a new colony on the Antarctic Peninsula that may have formed as penguins relocated.
“If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn’t make any sense,” lead author Michelle LaRue of the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering explained in a news release. “These birds didn’t just appear out of thin air—they had to have come from somewhere else. This suggests that emperor penguins move among colonies. That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes.”
To learn more:
- Read the full news release: New research using satellite images reveals that emperor penguins are more willing to relocate than previously thought
- Find out if some penguins are benefiting from climate change.
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