Australian climate change researchers look to penguin poo

BY newsdesk  October 15, 2013 at 6:39 PM EST

If you’re going to study the effects of climate change on a food chain, you have to look at how that food, ahem, ends up. Researchers from the Australian government’s Antarctic Division will study the Antarctic food chain, specifically, the historical feeding habits of Adelie penguins and impacts of ocean acidification on phytoplankton and bacteria, the smallest building blocks of the southern continent’s ecosystem, according to a report from AFP.


Seabird expert Barbara Wienecke will lead the survey as the team excavates ancient droppings to dertermine changes in the penguins’ diets over time.

She explained the research to AFP:

“We will be digging down into the old soils formed from bird waste and looking for the remains of prey, such as fish ear-bones and squid beaks,” said Wienecke.

“It is the first time this type of work has been done in the Davis region and we are hopeful of finding out whether Adelie diets changed in the past, for example, from krill to fish-based diets,” she added.

“Gaining this knowledge can help manage Southern Ocean fisheries to avoid disrupting the Antarctic food chain.”