Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Effects of Banding on Penguins

The health of the Earth has been a pressing concern for environmental scientists since the global temperatures have been increasing. One of the most impacting is the events in North and South Poles, where ice caps and glaciers are melting rapidly. The melting caps cause serious problems in the ecosystems and across the world.

To track some of the changes in the marine ecosystems, scientists tag penguins to monitor their habits. In this particular article, the evaluation was done on king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus). It is suggested that the interpreted data based on the effects of climate change is not accurate because of the tagging. The results of the ten year study show that banding can impair reproduction because 39% of banded penguins produce fewer chicks and have a lower overall survival rate by 16%.

It is believed that penguins will not be able to adapt to banding and this method of collecting data should be stopped. The reliability of the data collected for the climate change evaluation is not high enough to support any actual effects on the ecosystems.

Posted by Liz Stangle (3)


  1. Hey Liz,
    This study's goal was interesting in that it tried to find out how penguins were affected by the melting of polar ice caps. It was unclear of what banding was, at first, but was cleared up by the end of the post. Do you know what exactly the scientists did to tag them? I just thought that they stuck a chip, or something on them. Also how was a tag on a parent penguin able to affect the survival rate of the chick?
    David Duong

  2. Its really critical to make sure that while examining a species and how it is being impacted by climate change that the methods in doing so are not detrimental to the species. It is both sad for the penguins that were studied and the scientists whose 10 year project had to be halted with no conclusive data. However, it seems to me that there could have been more done to observe these penguins without tagging them in this way for an entire decade.

    Posted by Marlena Grasso

  3. Liz,

    I would be furious if I found out that these "scientists" actually knew beforehand that banding would have a negative impact on penguin reproductive and survival rates, or even if they knew that there was a possibility of this. Climate change is such a charged field that I feel people would not be opposed to doing this sort of thing to have their side gain some field on the other. This is a disgrace, and it must be stopped immediately! Much less invasive ways to collect data on climate change need to be developed.

    Posted by Derek Melzar

  4. It is surprising that they are finding this out just now. A lot of people have had in mind that the reason many of the organisms in the poles are disappearing or in decline is due to global warming (which it is), this is just adding to the cause. Would it be too difficult to insert tracking chips in penguins in the same way that it is done with dogs and cats? Implanting a chip would be more discrete instead of having a band over the wing, which could be uncomfortable (?) for the penguin.

    Posted by: Nelson Milano

  5. It's always tragic to see scientific efforts to alleviate the woes of threatened animal species instead causing the animals great harm. It's just good to see that they are immediately stopping the experiment now that they realize their tagging techniques are both harmful to the animals and useless in terms of producing scientific data. If only the US had the same attitude towards its massive subsidies of the oil industry, none of this would have probably happened in the first place.

    Connor Finnerty

  6. I can't believe that these scientists did not see this sooner, considering it was a ten year study. I hope they weren't aware beforehand because that would a pretty serious risk that has no positive outcome. Are there any other methods that are being looked into?

    Posted by Kevin McLaughlin

  7. The board that approved (and continued to approve over the past ten years) this study is also to blame. The adverse effects of this study should have been monitored by a review board and once this concern was brought to their attention, the study should have been stopped. Review boards exist so substantial negative impacts such as these can be avoided.

    Posted by Brianna Lee

  8. I agree with the many comments that talk about the tragedy that this study has caused. The penguins are getting the raw end of this deal and the data interpreted may not even be useful. I will attempt to answer some of the questions that arose. To tag the penguins, scientists wrapped a metal band around one of their wings. I am speculating that the survival rate of the chick decreased because of mate selection. It may be that the banded penguin was seen as undesirable to mate with and to pass on genes was inclined to mate with a similar penguin who had less desirable traits. As for implanting a chip, I believe there would be more consequences than benefits. One of the main points of this article is that interference with these species provides inaccurate data, so I feel there may not be a solution. However, implanting a chip would be more discrete than a band.

  9. The consequences of this inconsequential data is unfortunate; climate change appears to be imperative enough as an issue that any setback would be potentially harmful in terms of people taking it seriously. Although the effects of climate change are observed by a multitude of different types of researchers, in a variety of different areas, and using a number of different methods, the idea that the data collected during these expeditions was inconsequential might be enough to allow people to rationalize not believing in human-derived climate change.
    posted by Luke Brewer