Experts have reasoned that sea-ice loss and glacial calving have been accelerated do to anthropological climate change which has adversely influenced the survival rates of some species. Species like the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) that occupy icy territories, have their habitats threatened by changing climatological conditions. A study, conducted by Global Change Biology and the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed that emperor penguins receive extra defense under the Endangered Species Act due to the fact that their environments are undergoing shifts which directly effect their survival.

Global Change Biology Study

The study simulates the effects that extreme climate events has on penguin populations. The evidence for the modeled simulations is derived from observational data captured by satellite records. Emperor penguins live on the Antartica’s coastlines, which are especially sensitive to temperature alterations. Mature emperor penguins rely on sea ice shelves for rest, refuge from aquatic predators and as breeding grounds. Emperor penguins eat krill and other species of fish, such as silverfish, that they find in Antarticas waters. Emperor penguins require sufficient amounts of sea ice to raise their young. Declines in sea ice may be the reason that emperor penguins have been disappearing in various regions of Antartica.

Conclusion of the Study

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, emperor penguin populations were subjected to breakages in sea ice that occurred before young chicks were prepared to swim. This unfortunately caused young emperor penguins to drown in both Halley Bay and Cape Crozier. Research on greenhouse gas emissions suggests that shrinkages in icy environments is expected to increase in the future. The impact on penguin communities will only continue to suffer as a result. The species of penguin could become virtually extinct by the year 2100. The close relationship between emperor penguins and their environments is a quintessential example of how species rely on their habitats. Whether it be food, water or a place to breed and raise their young, natural ecosystems are the cornerstone of survival for most-if not all-organisms.

Future Implications

Theres an incredible need for legal intervention and precaution for many species around the world; however, the species that get the most attention are those that can be easily detected by ecologists and research teams that take sampling surveys. The species that receive most attention are fauna, or large animals. However, a variety of microorganisms, insects and the occasional plant species go unprotected because they are less accounted for generally. Human caused perturbations of natural environments can be catastrophic for ecological communities, which demonstrates the need for human wildlife services and consideration towards forests, arctics and wetlands for the sake of native species.

NOAA visual representation of Antarctica

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