Studies on the population dynamics of king penguins, Aptenodytes patagonicus, a large Antarctic diving bird, have been on-going for many years. Recently, these fish-eating, top-of-the-food-chain predators have been used as indicator-species for studies on the impacts of climate change in the southern hemisphere (Croxall et al., 2002; Tynan 1998). In many respects, penguins have become “polar bear equivalents” of the Antarctic ecosystem.
Introducing their study of the subject, Saraux et al. (2011) note that “in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted an urgent need to assess the responses of marine ecosystems to climate change. Because they lie in a high-latitude region, the Southern Ocean ecosystems are expected to be strongly affected by global warming. Using top predators of this highly productive ocean (such as penguins) as integrative indicators may help us assess the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems.
Yea – some warming trend.