Fast climate changes in the Antarctic Peninsula are reducing krill density, which, by its turn, is reflected in penguin population dynamics. The increased concentration of fishing activities in this area in the last two to three decades is believed to have feedbacked the impacts of climate change over penguin populations. We used almost 40 years of data on fishing activities and on penguin population monitoring to test this assumption. We found that fisheries in Antarctic Peninsula are shifting from being more frequent in the chick-rearing to the non-breeding season. We found that increases in fishing catch during the non-breeding period are likely to have a significant impact on chinstrap populations, and a non-significant impact on gentoo populations. Fisheries and climate change together decreased consistently the population growth rate of penguins: very high catches and very low values of the southern annular mode reflected in very low growth rate for the three species.
Dr Lucas Krüger (Chile)
Dr César Cárdenas (Chile)