Penguins Willingness to Relocate May Help Them Adapt to Climate Change

Written by on July 2, 2014 in Marine Life, Penguins
Emperor penguin colony.

Emperor penguin colony. Photo credit: ianduffy via photopin cc.

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.”

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Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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