November 22, 2012
Emperor Penguins Use Sea Ice To Get Some Rest While Foraging
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineResearchers tracking the behavior of emperor penguins near the sea have identified the importance of sea ice for their feeding habits.
The team wrote in the journal PLOS ONE about the emperor penguins foraging behavior through the birds' chick-rearing season.
Emperor penguins spend more time than other penguins diving for food, and only use about 30 percent of their time at sea to take short breaks to rest on sea ice.
The study suggests that these short rest periods on ice may help the penguins avoid predators like leopard seals.
Although sea ice conditions are known to affect penguin populations, the relationship between ice levels and penguins' foraging habits have been unclear because of the difficulties of tracking the birds.
"The monitoring technique developed in this study will help to understand the relationship," said Shinichi Watanabe from Fukuyama University.
During the research, the team observed that the birds did not travel for long distances on the ice, or use it for other activities.
The research was financially supported by the NSF Grants OPP, and by funds from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, and the program "Bio-Logging Science of The University of Tokyo (UTBLS)."
According to the Public Library of Science, funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.