This shivering penguin is just one of thousands close to death in Antarctica. Rain storms have killed tens of thousands of chicks -- and scientists blame global warming.Nature news, January 12, 2011:
New-born penguins take 40 days to grow water-proof feathers. They can withstand snow, but if rain soaks them to the skin, they die of cold.
Attaching bands to penguins' flippers makes them easier for scientists to study, but may also up the birds' death rates and lower their chances of reproducing.See also Iowahawk:
A team studying king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) has rekindled this debate, which has been running for more than 30 years, and thrown up an additional concern. Not only do bands placed around the birds' flippers make life more difficult for penguins, their effects also undermine the conclusions drawn from such studies. . .
Yvon Le Maho at the University of Strasbourg in France, an author of the current study, published in Nature, says that the time has come for ecologists to embrace new technologies and abandon flipper bands, "certainly as a precautionary principle".
His group's paper also highlights a wider issue: studies on penguins can and are being used to look at the effects of climate change on ecosystems. Le Maho and colleagues have previously used electronic tagging of king penguins to show that just 0.26 ºC of warming in sea-surface temperatures could trigger a 9% decline in adult survival. If banding were used in such studies, its consequences on a population could cripple attempts to extrapolate a climate-linked trend from the data.
"It's very difficult to anticipate what the consequences are," Le Maho says. He says there is a problem with warming affecting ecosystems, but "the numbers have to be reconsidered" where they have been derived from banded studies.
"science" 2007: AGW to dry up Aussie rivers by 2010(via Watts Up With That?, Planet Gore)
"science" 2011: Aussie floods result of AGW