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Today I would like to first share a work photo of ecologist Casey Youngflesh. You probably already thought through the title that this is a penguin researcher, so I would like to ask you to guess first, what is he doing in the photo?
It seems that this person is spreading some red things of different shades into a pie shape. The point of the question is, what is this…
The answer is-penguin shit. One of Youngflesh’s work is to collect the feces left by Adelie penguins in the field, and then spread them into a cake for spectroscopic analysis, and then bring them back to the laboratory to analyze the components in detail and establish the relationship between color and fecal composition. .
The color of these penguin shit samples looks good, but obviously their smell is not touching. “These bird droppings have a pungent smell, which is absolutely unpleasant. This is something you must learn to cope with.” Youngflesh described his work experience as such.
In fact, this is a way for researchers to understand penguin recipes. As we can see in the picture above, penguin shit has different color numbers, and this color depends on the food they eat (for example, if the penguin eats more krill, then the stool will appear redder). Therefore, the researchers hope to reverse the penguins’ recipes by color, and observe the changes in order to understand the changes in the Antarctic ecological environment and find the possible reasons for the reduction in penguin populations.
It is of course time-consuming to investigate the color numbers of penguin shit on the spot, but researchers have a more convenient monitoring method: look directly at the satellite image. At the place where the penguins gather in the breeding season, the large pink stains can be clearly seen through the satellite map.
(An example of a satellite image)
Researchers reported their current observations of penguin shit at a meeting in December last year. Research shows that the diets of penguins are geographically different, but no significant changes have occurred in the last 30 years.
If you are interested in this research, you can also experience the fun of finding penguin excrement through Google Earth’s satellite image (?). If you find traces of penguin excrement that researchers have missed, you can’t help the research. For detailed operation instructions, please see this website: http://www.penguinmap.com/contribute/
Corresponding abstract of the conference paper: https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm18/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/461793
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