Washington: Researchers have offered new insights on the long-term future of emperor penguins by showing that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment better than expected.
Researchers have long thought that emperor penguins were philopatric, which means they would return to the same location to nest each year.
The new research study used satellite images to show that penguins may not be faithful to previous nesting locations.
Researchers involved in the new study found six instances in just three years in which emperor penguins did not return to the same location to breed. They also report on one newly discovered colony on the Antarctic Peninsula that may represent the relocation of penguins.
University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering researcher and the study`s lead author Michelle LaRue, said "Their research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviors we thought we understood about emperor penguins."
LaRue said "If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn`t make any sense. These birds didn`t just appear out of thin air-they had to have come from somewhere else. This suggests that emperor penguins move among colonies. That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes."
The study has also been published in the journal Ecography.