25 May 2014

It's a bird eat bird world for South Georgia's macaroni penguins

Macaroni penguins walking across
the weighbridge to their colony.
Photo credit: BAS
SOUTH GEORGIA - More than 10 years of data have revealed new information about the survival rates of macaroni penguins on the South Atlantic island of South Georgia, helping scientists better understand the threats they are under.

A research team, led by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), used the data collected from tiny electronic tags placed on the penguins' backs to explore year-to-year survival rates and uncover the biggest pressures on the population.

Their findings, published this week in the Journal of Animal Ecology, showed that one of the biggest threats the penguins face is predation by other seabirds.

18 May 2014

I'm king of the world! A king penguin's first year at sea

King penguins at Salisbury Plain, South Georgia.
Photo credit: Liam Quinn. Some rights reserved.
ANTARCTICA – You're a young king penguin, out on your own for the first time in the big wide ocean. Where do you go? In the first study of its kind, Klemens Pütz from Antarctic Research Trust and his colleagues used satellite transponders to track juvenile king penguins' first year away from home.

The results, published this month in the open access journal PLoS ONE, showed that the juvenile penguins explored new habitat and eventually learned to find food in similar habitat to their parents.

07 May 2014

Avian flu found in Antarctic penguins 'unlike anything else detected in the world'

Aeron Hurt with a penguin.
Credit: Aeron Hurt, WHO
Collaborating Centre for Reference
and Research on Influenza
ANTARCTICA – For the first time, an international team of researchers has identified an avian influenza virus in a group of Adélie penguins from Antarctica

The virus, found to be unlike any other circulating avian flu, is described in a study published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Study author and Associate Professor Aeron Hurt, PhD, a senior research scientist at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia, said that while other research groups have detected influenza antibodies in penguin blood samples, no one had detected actual live influenza virus in penguins or other birds in Antarctica before.