TechnologyPenguin and seal poop gives life to Antarctica, new study finds
This giant chunk of ice could break off Antarctica any day
Two cracks on the Brunt Ice Shelf are creeping closer to each other. When they intersect, an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan will slide into the ocean.
A study published Thursday credits penguin and seal excrement for consistently enabling a bloom of life in the harsh climate of Antarctica.
Gasses from the waste of Antarctic penguins and elephant seals are responsible for a hotspot of small invertebrates surrounding the colonies, the study found. Researchers say that creatures such as mites and roundworms often found a home in moss around the colonies.
The study says the presence of penguin and elephant seals caused the number and diversity of invertebrates to increase between two and eight times.
Great white sharks are afraid of orcas, study finds
A new study led by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and published Tuesday in Nature found great white sharks leave their “preferred hunting ground” when orcas -- also known as killer whales -- enter it. What’s more, researchers found the sharks won’t return for roughly a year -- even if the orcas don’t stay that long. To come to this conclusion, researchers “documented four encounters between the top predators at Southeast Farallon Island in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off San Francisco, California,” per the Monterey Bay Aquarium's news release on the findings.
"What we see is that the poo produced by seals and penguins partly evaporates as ammonia," aVrije Universiteit Amsterdam researcher Stef Bokhorst. "Then, the ammonia gets picked up by the wind and is blown inland, and this makes its way into the soil and provides the nitrogen that primary producers need in order to survive in this landscape."
The study, published in Current Biology, set out to study biodiversity in the Antarctic. Authors say the information could be used to assess the impact of climate change.
Thousands of penguin chicks wiped out
The second largest emperor penguin colony in Antarctica disappears, satellite images show.
Researchers found "hotspots" of biodiversity surrounding the colonies and attributed the great variety of life to the spread of nitrogen from the colonies' waste. The scale of such hotspots tracks closely with the size of the colony of penguins or seals — more so than the harshness of the climate, a release says.
"The influence of this excrement can extend more than 1,000 meters beyond the colony," a release says.
Bokhorst said that grasslands in the U.S. or Europe can have 100,000 invertebrates per square meter. But through extensive sampling and analysis, researchers found "millions" of invertebrates per square meter in Antarctica.
Researches suggested that the rich life surrounding the colonies could allow an invasive species to thrive, which could lead to the presence of creatures such as spiders and beetles. Researchers plan to study the possible impacts of an invasive species further.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
A "supercolony" of 1.5 million Adélie penguins (re) discovered in Antarctica
The researchers were surprised by the scale of colonies living in the Dangers Islands, at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The images taken by a drone are impressive.
The Dangers Islands, a particularly hostile and inaccessible area, is home to the largest population of Adélie penguins in the Antarctic Peninsula (the southernmost polar arm of the South Pole). This is the conclusion ofthat estimates to 1.5 million the number of these birds with white - circled eyes on these small pieces of land located in the extreme north of the region. This is more than twice as much as previous estimates.
Scientists already knew that a large colony of about 300,000 pairs was populating one of the islands, Heroina Island. An expedition in the 1970s had also found that the other islands were "inhabited" and some photos taken by a passing ship in 2008/2009 confirmed it. But it is a recent satellite image of medium resolution taken by the US Landsat satellite that caught the attention of researchers: the quantities of guano (bird droppings) seemed strangely important, especially on Beagle Island.
"At first, I thought it was a mistake," says Heather Lynch, a researcher at Stony Brook American University who oversaw this work. "But when we got our hands on high resolution commercial satellite images, we knew it was a major discovery." The researchers then mounted an expedition to visit the site in December 2015. They then combined ground observations and images taken with a drone to count the number of nests: there are more than 750,000 they can say today.
The archipelago is home to the 3rd and 4th largest Adélie penguin colonies in the world on Heroina Island and Beagle Island, respectively. In total, more than half of the individuals in the Antarctic Peninsula are massed on this string of small islands. The retrospective analysis of older satellite images also suggests that this population is relatively stable.
The researchers are pleasantly surprised by this (re) discovery as the colonies located in the west of the peninsula, only a few dozen kilometers away, are on the contrary very badly in point, with a decrease in their population estimated at 70% over several decades. "The cause of this decline is unclear at the moment," says Tom Hart, a researcher with the Oxford Department of Zoology. It is even less so today.An area to be protected from fishing
"Now that we know that this small group of islands is so important, we could consider protecting it more from fishing (krill, a tiny shrimp that constitutes the bulk of their diet , Ed.) ", Pleads Heather Lynch. Researchers are calling for this area to be included in future Marine Protected Areas to be discussed by
Adélie penguins, unlike king penguins, are not especially at risk at the moment. Present all around the South Pole, their number has been increasing globally for 30 years, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), despite major geographical disparities.
Alien life on Mars may have emerged earlier than life on Earth, study says.
We've never seen credible evidence of Martians, but new science shows they could've been having a beach party billions of years ago.
Scientists Discover 'Supercolony' Of More Than A Million Rare Penguins In Antarctica | TIME
Professors from Stony Brook University in New York say they discovered an enormous colony of 1.5 million Adélie Penguins, which live on the Antarctic ...
Incredible penguin cam captures life under the Antarctic ice - Daily Mail
Analysis of ancient penguin guano has revealed that volcanic eruptions, not climate change, almost wiped out an Antarctic sea bird colony three times, ...