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Latino Daily News

Monday April 18, 2011

Chilean Scientists Study Drop in Population of Antarctic Penguins

Chilean Scientists Study Drop in Population of Antarctic Penguins

Photo: Penguin population is dropping

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Chilean scientists are studying the decline in the Antarctic penguin population and are attributing the fall to the abundance of krill, penguins’ main food source.

Recent research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says levels of krill have fallen 80 percent over the course of the study, which began in 1986.

The study refutes a once widely-held theory known as “sea-ice hypothesis,” that states a drop in the level of sea ice will benefit ice-avoiding species while negatively affecting the penguin population.

Antarctica has a very delicate ecosystem, constantly threatened by the effects of global warming. Changes in ocean temperatures and ice coverage are making it harder for the region’s krill, and shrimp—once one of the most abundant species on the planet, to prosper and sustain local penguin populations

The study, where several Chilean scientists participated, looked back at the history of the penguin population over the last 80 years.

Their research has concluded that increased competition from whales for krill was having a detrimental effect on the penguins.