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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.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer Rivers and lakes across Northwestern states — from Yellowstone to Montana — have lost most of their trout, due to extreme drought conditions. Because of this, state authorities have implemented a variety of restrictions to preserve their dwindling trout populations, leaving recreational fly fishers in the lurch. Why This […]
Marine scientists are eagerly investigating a 100-pound opah fish, or “moonfish,” that washed ashore in Oregon last week. The deep-sea fish usually makes its home in temperate or tropical waters, raising questions about how it came to be so far north. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), not much is known about the fish, which has red […]
(Parts of this story are reprinted with permission from the World Wildlife Fund) High-profile TV coverage of tigers in captivity may give the impression that breeding tigers in captivity is the only way to save the species, but that’s far from true. Globally, there are some legitimate conservation breeding programs for tigers that are important […]
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