Scientists make penguin DNA discovery at ZSL
Monday, 14, Dec 2009 12:01
By Sarah Garrod.
Scientists have developed a new penguin DNA profiling technique which is being used for the first time to study how they migrate between colonies.
Researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the University of Sheffield have identified genetic markers that can be used to track the movement of penguins.
They say ultimately the discovery could determine whether Antarctica's changing climate is driving penguins from their favoured breeding sites.
ZSL's own penguinologist, Tom Hart said: "Knowing how penguins are responding to climate change is vital to conservation efforts.
"If we understand how their populations are changing, we can do something about it, such as making sure that our protected areas are in the right place for penguins in 100 years time."
The researchers say penguins are not only threatened by climate change, but are also under increasing pressure from direct competition with fisheries.
Studying them is notoriously difficult because they live in very harsh environments and are hard to track, therefore this new monitoring tool enables scientists to follow their populations and address the threats that they face.