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A Love Story Among the Emperor Penguins, Research Proposal Example

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Words: 313

Research Proposal

A recent study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationfound that carbon dioxide-induced change in the Earth’s climate is, in fact, irreversible (Harris, 2010).  The consequent rising seas and melting polar sea ice are well-documented effects of the planetary warming trend. These environmental changes are highly significant for Antarctica’sEmpire penguin population.

The Emperor penguin has the longest breeding cycle of all penguin species, lasting 14 to 16 months, butmelting ice has shortened the breeding cycle, leading to a measurable drop in population. The penguins breed, feed, and molt on large sheets of polar ice, which doubles as a food source for krill, tiny crustaceans that thrive on algae growing on the underside of the ice. Krill are then consumed by fish, seals, whales, and penguins (Villano, 2010).

Biologists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have developed mathematical models that project the penguins’ population growth and decline based on observations of their mating, breeding, and feeding behaviors and birth and mortality rates.  These population dynamic models were combined with projections of Antarctic climate change and resulting loss of sea ice.

The Woods Hole research found that the large Emperor penguin colony at Terre Adelie, Antarctica, stands to sustain a population loss that would shrink the colony from about 3,000 to as few as 400 breeding pairs.  This research calculates that by the end of the century, the colony will have recorded as much as a 95 percent loss in population.

The research essay I am proposing would shed light on the plight of this unique and beautiful species and the effect of climatological change on its breeding habits. My intent is to profile a popular and much-loved animal and address a critical problem that only stands to worsen as the planet’s temperature patterns continue to change.

Works Cited

Harris, Richard. “Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says.”  National Public Radio (2010).   http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99888903

Villano, Matt.  “Are Emperor Penguins Marching to Extinction.” Oceanus (2010). http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=59246

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