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Penguins on a Slippery Slope

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A major study of all of the world’s different penguin species suggests that they are at continuing risk from habitat degradation.

The report, published in Conservation Biology, recommends the establishment of more marine protected areas to help mitigate against a range of hazards including food scarcity where fisheries compete for the same resources, being caught in fishing nets, oil pollution and climate change.

Populations of many penguin species have declined substantially over the past two decades. In 2013, 11 species were listed as “threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, two as “near threatened” and five as “of least concern”.

In order to understand how they might respond to further human impacts on the world’s oceans, an international team of 49 scientists examined all 18 species by looking at different factors where human activity might interfere with their populations.

They considered all the main factors affecting penguin populations, including terrestrial habitat degradation, marine pollution, fisheries bycatch and resource competition, environmental variability, climate change and toxic algal poisoning and disease.

The researchers conclude that habitat loss, pollution and fishing remain the primary concerns, and contend that the future resilience of penguin populations to climate change impacts...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.