Naked chicks baffle penguin boffins

Large numbers of young penguins in colonies around the Atlantic are suffering what is known as feather-loss disorder and scientists are baffled as to what might be causing the condition. A report on the disorder appears in the journal Waterbirds.

“Feather-loss disorders are uncommon in most bird species, and we need to conduct further study to determine the cause of the disorder and if this is in fact spreading to other penguin species,” said report author P. Dee Boersma of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Boersma has been studying Magellanic penguins for more than three decades and says the feather-loss disorder first emerged in Cape Town, South Africa in 2006 among a group of African (or black-footed) penguins. During that year, approximately 59 percent of the penguin chicks lost their feathers, followed by 97 percent of the chicks in 2007, and 20 percent of the chicks in 2008.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the South Atlantic, researchers from the WCS observed feather-loss disorder in the chicks of wild Magellanic penguins at four different sites along Argentina’s coastline.

In both instances, the chicks with feather-loss disorder grew more slowly than feathered chicks. Featherless chicks were also smaller in size and weight than feathered chicks. Boersma says these disparities are due to the increased energy spent in thermoregulation in the absence of an insulating coat of feathers.

The researchers say pathogens, thyroid disorders, nutrient imbalances or genetics could be to blame. “We need to learn how to stop the spread of feather-loss disorder, as penguins already have problems with oil pollution and climate variation,” concluded Boersma. “It’s important to keep disease from being added to the list of threats they face.”

Related:
Penguin populations plummeting
Penguins Struggling With Icebergs
Survival Of The Cutest

Source: Wildlife Conservation Society

, ,

Comments are closed.

Penguin Musical Snow Globe - Wind Up Christmas Water Globe Plays Let It Snow picture

Penguin Musical Snow Globe - Wind Up Christmas Water Globe Plays Let It Snow

$29.99



8ft Inflatable Christmas Train w/ Santa Claus, Snowman Penguin Gift Boxes LED picture

8ft Inflatable Christmas Train w/ Santa Claus, Snowman Penguin Gift Boxes LED

$69.99



2021 Hallmark Keepsake Hasbro Play-Doh Penguin Ornament picture

2021 Hallmark Keepsake Hasbro Play-Doh Penguin Ornament

$8.99



2020 Hallmark Batman The Penguin Burgess Meredith Limited Edition Ornament picture

2020 Hallmark Batman The Penguin Burgess Meredith Limited Edition Ornament

$21.95



Hallmark Keepsake Ornament 2018 Frosty Friends Fireplace Penguin 39th #39 Series picture

Hallmark Keepsake Ornament 2018 Frosty Friends Fireplace Penguin 39th #39 Series

$18.50



Disney Club Penguin Movie Director Penguin Pin Trading picture

Disney Club Penguin Movie Director Penguin Pin Trading

$8.95



Funko The Penguin and Duck Ride - Batman Returns picture

Funko The Penguin and Duck Ride - Batman Returns

$35.00



Hallmark Keepsake - Penguin Gumdrop - Limited Edition - 2022 **NEW / ** picture

Hallmark Keepsake - Penguin Gumdrop - Limited Edition - 2022 **NEW / **

$21.74



8ft Inflatable Santa Claus Hot Air Balloon with Penguin LED Display picture

8ft Inflatable Santa Claus Hot Air Balloon with Penguin LED Display

$54.99



8ft Christmas Inflatable Candy Cane Archway w/ Three Penguins and Gift Boxes picture

8ft Christmas Inflatable Candy Cane Archway w/ Three Penguins and Gift Boxes

$69.99



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes