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至本世纪末,七成王企鹅可能消失

GRACE DONNELLY 2018年03月06日

王企鹅生活在地球南大洋靠近南极洲的岛屿上,而全球变暖和气候变化导致这里的海平面上升,冰川融化。

摄影师:John Sylvester — 盖蒂图片社/All Canada Photos

《自然气候变化》杂志上发表的一篇研究报告称,至本世纪末,如果找不到新的岛屿栖息地,七成王企鹅可能消失。

王企鹅生活在地球南大洋靠近南极洲的岛屿上,而全球变暖和气候变化导致这里的海平面上升,冰川融化。

与其近亲帝企鹅不同,王企鹅在没有冰的岛屿上栖息繁衍。它们的栖息地不存在消失的危险,但它们的食物来源却正在受到气候变化的影响。

每年最温暖的季节,王企鹅会游到310英里以外的海域觅食,但气温升高使它们赖以生存的鱿鱼、鱼、虾等海洋生物向更靠近南极的海域迁徙,从而会增加王企鹅觅食的距离。

这意味着王企鹅要把饥饿的幼崽留在栖息地,前往距离巢穴更远的地方觅食。现在,企鹅幼崽要等待一周多时间,它们的父母才能带回食物,而觅食距离延长,将威胁幼崽长成成年企鹅和进行繁殖的机会。

King penguins could see a 70% decrease in their population by the end of the century if they can’t find a new island habitat, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change.

The birds live in islands off of Antarctica in the Earth’s southern oceans, where global warming and climate change have led to rising sea levels and melting ice.

These penguins, unlike their emperor penguins relatives, live and breed on ice-free islands. Their homes aren’t in danger of melting away, but their source of food is being impacted by climate change.

King penguins swim as far as 310 miles to catch their food during the warmest part of the year, but rising temperatures will push the squid, fish, and krill they feed on closer to the South Pole, stretching the distance the birds would have to travel for their dinner.

This means the penguins are traveling farther and farther from their nests, and their hungry offspring, in order to hunt. Baby king penguins already wait more than a week for their parents to return with food, and lengthening the time they go hungry threatens their chances of making it to adulthood and reproducing.

一只看起来有些沮丧的王企鹅。摄影师:David Merron,盖蒂图片社  

法国休伯特·居里安跨学科研究院(Hubert Curien Multi-disciplinary Institute)的生态学家、该项报告的作者之一赛琳·勒伯赫告诉The Verge:“我们知道,王企鹅的数量会迅速减少。而它们的遭遇只是向我们揭开了生态系统变化的冰山一角。”

勒伯赫与研究团队开发了一个模型,用于确定王企鹅生活的哪些岛屿将会受到气温上升的影响,哪些岛屿更适合王企鹅生存。之后,他们通过历史和遗传学数据对模型进行了验证,重现了王企鹅在之前的气候变化周期内的转移情况。

模型显示,至2100年,全世界近一半王企鹅预计将完全失去栖息地,它们大部分生活在克罗泽群岛和爱德华王子群岛。

意大利费拉拉大学(University of Ferrara)的进化生物学家、报告作者之一埃米利亚诺·特鲁契告诉The Verge,生活在克罗泽群岛的王企鹅未来需要游到435英里以外觅食。

特鲁契说道:“未来它们要么迁移栖息地,要么消失。规模最大的王企鹅群体所生活的岛屿,未来将远离食物来源。”

王企鹅喜欢在布满卵石的沙滩上繁殖。而要找到这样一座没有冰的新栖息地却并不容易。研究显示,王企鹅必须迁移到数百甚至数千公里以外,还要与其他企鹅品种争夺空间和食物。

虽然王企鹅数量减少70%听起来非常严重,但芝加哥洛约拉大学(Loyola University Chicago)的进化生物学家珍妮·杨格告诉《纽约时报》,这只是保守估计。杨格并未参与此次研究。

在鱼虾等王企鹅的食物来源因为海洋变暖开始向南迁徙之前,过渡捕捞和气候变化造成的海洋酸化已经对它们构成了威胁。科学家们表示,通过限制渔业和旅游业等措施,能够将这方面的影响降到最低,但多数王企鹅的生存仍取决于人类对抗气候变暖的努力。(财富中文网)

译者:刘进龙/汪皓

“We know that penguin populations will collapse soon,” study co-author Céline Le Bohec, an ecologist at the Hubert Curien Multi-disciplinary Institute in France, told The Verge. “They are showing us the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in the ecosystems.”

Le Bohec and the research team developed a model to determine which islands where king penguins live would become vulnerable as temperatures rise and which might become better-suited for the birds. Then they validated their model through historical and genetic data, recreating the movements of king penguins during previous periods of climate change.

Half of the world’s king penguins, who live on the Crozet and Prince Edward Islands, will lose their habitat completely by 2100, according to the researchers’ model.

Penguins in the Crozet Islands will have to swim 435 miles to feed, study co-author Emiliano Trucchi, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Ferrara in Italy, toldThe Verge.

“They will need to either move somewhere else or they will just disappear,” Trucchi said. “The largest colonies are on islands that will be too far from the source of food,”

Finding a new ice-free home with the sandy and pebbly beaches where king penguins like to breed is not easy. The search means the birds have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles and will put them in competition with other penguin species for space and food.

While a 70% loss in population sounds extreme, it’s probably a conservative estimate, Jane Younger, an evolutionary ecologist at Loyola University Chicago, who was not involved in the research, told the New York Times.

Even before the fish and krill that penguins feed on begin to move farther south as oceans get warmer, they are vulnerable to overfishing and acidification with climate change. Scientists say this impact can be minimized with restrictions on activities like fishing and tourism, but the survival of the majority of king penguins depends on humans combatting global warming, according to researchers.

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