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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Studies

Peron, C., H. Weimerskirch, and C. A. Bost. 2012. Projected poleward shift of king penguins' (Aptenodytes patagonicus) foraging range at the Crozet Islands, southern Indian Ocean. Proc Biol Sci 279:2515-2523.

Abstract:Seabird populations of the Southern Ocean have been responding to climate change for the last three dec- ades and demographic models suggest that projected warming will cause dramatic population changes over the next century. Shift in species distribution is likely to be one of the major possible adaptations to chan- ging environmental conditions. Habitat models based on a unique long-term tracking dataset of king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) breeding on the Crozet Islands (southern Indian Ocean) revealed that despite a significant influence of primary productivity and mesoscale activity, sea surface temperature con- sistently drove penguins’ foraging distribution. According to climate models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the projected warming of surface waters would lead to a gradual south- ward shift of the more profitable foraging zones, ranging from 25 km per decade for the B1 IPCC scenario to 40 km per decade for the A1B and A2 scenarios. As a consequence, distances travelled by incubating and brooding birds to reach optimal foraging zones associated with the polar front would double by 2100. Such a shift is far beyond the usual foraging range of king penguins breeding and would negatively affect the Crozet population on the long term, unless penguins develop alternative foraging strategies.

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