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What’s the best way to track remote colonies of Adélie penguins and figure out what they’re eating? Monitor their poop using satellites. Landsat satellite images have been used to monitor the Earth since 1970 and while they have been able to tell scientists how many penguins make up a colony by tracking the size of penguin poop stains, new research is using the images to track what the penguins are eating.
Adélie penguins’ poop color is determined by what they eat and the level of caratenoids in their diet. As Science News for Students explained, Casey Youngflesh, an ecologist at the University of Connecticut collected penguin poop samples in Antarctica and ran them through a spectrometer and measured nitrogen-15 levels to get a baseline of how various penguin foods affected the color of their poop. Youngflesh used math to translate the detailed spectrometer data to the less-detailed data in the Landsat photos. Afterward, each pixel depicting poop on a Landsat image could be linked to the dominant item on the penguin menu: fish or krill.
Adélie penguins in West Antarctica tend to eat more krill. Those in East Antarctica eat more fish. Youngflesh shared his findings on December 12, 2018, at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in Washington, D.C.
We just love a tsunami with a happy ending! The Georgia Sea Turtle Center on St. Simons Island had been rehabilitating Tsunami, an endangered green sea turtle that was hit by a boat in 2017, for years with the hope of setting her free in the ocean. But her injuries were too severe to survive […]
By Will Gartshore, Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s an old aphorism that still rings painfully true today. Long before Covid-19, the three deadliest pandemics in human history—the bubonic plague, Spanish influenza and HIV/AIDS—claimed more lives than all the […]
We know the permafrost in the Arctic is melting fast, but a new study finds that one of the reasons for its rapid decline may be that beavers are actually damming it up — literally. CNN reports that using satellite images scientists have observed that beavers are building dams way farther north than previously observed. […]
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