‘Penguins as Marine Sentinels’ topic of distinguished lecturer
BOWLING GREEN, O.—Polar bears in the Arctic have become a symbol of the effects of climate change on wildlife but much farther south, penguins are experiencing great changes in their lives as well. Dr. Dee Boersma, a leading researcher on marine birds, will discuss the new challenges confronting temperate penguin species in the 2013 Buchanan Lecture.
Boersma, the Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Science at the University of Washington, will speak on “Penguins as Marine Sentinels” at 7 p.m. March 12 in 112 Life Sciences Building. Her talk is free and open to the public.
From the tropics to Antarctica, penguins depend on predictable regions of high ocean productivity where their prey aggregate. Increases in precipitation and reductions in sea ice associated with climate warming are affecting penguins. The largest breeding colony of Patagonian Magellanic penguins, at Punta Tombo, Argentina, had approximately 200,000 breeding pairs in October 2006—a decline of 22 percent since 1987. In the 1980s and 1990s, petroleum pollution was a major source of Patagonian penguin mortality. In 1994, tanker lanes were moved 25 miles farther off the coast of Chubut, and the dumping of ballast water and the oiling of penguins are now rare. However, penguins are swimming 32 miles farther north from their nests during incubation than they did a decade ago, very likely reflecting shifts in prey in response to climate change and reductions in prey abundance caused by commercial fishing. These penguin species, marine sentinels for southern oceans, demonstrate that new challenges are confronting their populations.
Named an Environmental Hero by the Nature Conservancy of Washington in 2010, Boersma has received numerous other recognitions for her contributions to the understanding of and advocacy for sea birds. She has conducted research for national and international agencies such as the Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the International Council for Bird Preservation.
She is executive editor of Conservation Magazine, on the board of directors for the Natural History Network and serves as a scientific adviser to multiple organizations.
In addition to her public lecture, Boersma will also address students and faculty in the life sciences in a 3:30 p.m. seminar on March 13. The lecture is titled “Galapagos Penguins Rare and Endangered: Can We Increase Their Numbers?” and deals with the rarest species of penguin in the world, whose population has declined by as much as 75 percent since 1972 because of introduced predators and climate change.
BGSU’s annual lecture series was created in 1998 through an endowment by Jean Pasakarnis Buchanan, who graduated from the University in 1952 and went on to a 33-year career as a cytologist with Massachusetts General Hospital. She also taught cytology, which is the study of human cells, at Northeastern University. Buchanan received the Alumni Community Award from BGSU in 1972, and in 1987 set up a scholarship for biology or medical technology majors. Her lectureship endowment has allowed the University to bring some of the leading figures in biology and medicine to campus each year.
(Posted March 04, 2013 )