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Arctic Seabirds Adapt to Warming Temperatures
By Angela Messina, January 14, 2015 @ 07:30 PM (EST)
Source: National Geographic

Little auks, Arctic birds that are nicknamed the “penguins of the north,” have found a unique way to adapt to the loss of prey due to climate change: by eating prey that is stunned by cold water running off of melting glaciers.

Little auks feed on zooplankton which typically group around sea ice. Since 2005, summer sea ice in the birds’ habitat has virtually disappeared, forcing auks to find a different method of finding food. National Geographic scientists found that little auks in Franz-Josef Land (located off the northern coast of Russia) were resorting to catching zooplankton that had become stunned by glacial water runoff.

Little auks are considered especially vulnerable to climate change and scientists are happy to see that they are surviving, at least for now. “It's good news that the little auks are adapting now,” says Enric Sala, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, “but because the system is changing continuously, we don't know how long they will be able to keep up.”

Read more in the National Geographic article.




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