Researchers are using NASA Landsat satellite images to see how environmental changes are affecting the world’s animals. A group of scientists studying Adelie penguins and climate change have found that the colour of penguin poop indicates not only what they ate but also serves as an indicator of the response of the marine ecosystem to climate change. Adelie penguins are a species that can provide an early warning of threat to Antarctica’s delicate ecosystem. Scientists noticed a decline in some Adelie populations and they worried that climate change and other factors like penguin’s diet and access to food may be affecting them. Gay Penguin Couple Sphengic From Sydney Welcome Their Baby, View Cute Pic of The Newly-Born Penguin Chick.
According to a blog post by NASA, the satellite images can’t see the penguins individually but can detect their presence by the stain left on the ice by their poop, called guano. Heather Lynch, associate professor at Stony Brook University and Casey Youngflesh, a graduate from the same university are a part of the team that has been tapping into the Landsat satellite imagery. The poop stain can detect what the Adelie are eating and if that diet has changed over the years.
The scientists not only looked at the amount of guano but also the colour of it. Lynch said, “Penguin guano ranges from white to pink to dark red. White guano is from eating mostly fish, pink and red would be from eating mostly krill.” The images did show diet changes from year to year, but no consistent pattern was apparent. Youngflesh emphasised, “Given continued changes in the physical environment and a growing krill fishery in the region, changes are likely to be seen both in the availability of penguin prey and penguin population themselves. Tools such as these will be important for the management of the Antarctic ecosystem, which is often considered among the most pristine areas in the world.”