In recent years, climate change induced threats to polar bear survival have captured public and political attention. Now, threats to charismatic fauna from the other side of the planet have also captured public attention.

An article in the July/August issue of BioScience has made a splash in the news media. The report, “Penguins as Marine Sentinels,” authored by University of Washington biologist, P. Dee Boersma, caught the attention of national and international print and electronic media, including coverage on ABC World News with Charles Gibson, the New York Times, and the Associated Press, among many other outlets

According to a BioScience press release accompanying the article, “The ecology of penguins makes these iconic swimming and diving seabirds of the Southern Hemisphere unusually susceptible to environmental changes. Pronounced warming in the Antarctic, as well as commercial fishing, mining, and oil and gas development at lower latitudes, has led to declines in many species, according to P. Dee Boersma.” The article provides a first-person account based on 30 years of studying the birds. Counts of the penguin populations at the 43 remaining breeding “hotspots,” even once every five years, could provide valuable insights into the variability of the ocean ecosystem and the populations’ viability, Boersma writes. Yet counts are carried out only rarely, if at all.

To read the BioScience article, please visit


back to Public Policy Reports

Bookmark and Share