Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the University of Washington and other groups are trying to unravel the mystery of nature: Why are some penguin chicks losing their feathers? The appearance of "naked" penguins with obvious signs of disturbances in the pen cover penguin colonies on both sides of the South Atlantic, very puzzled scientists trying in recent years to determine what is the cause of such conditions.
"Violation of the pen cover is uncommon for most species of birds, and we need to conduct further research to determine the cause of violations and then, whether it’s a different kind of penguins" - said one of the researchers, who observed the Magellanic penguins for more than three decades.
Violation of plumage in birds was first noted in Cape Town, South Africa in 2006, when South African researchers Shorebird Conservation Fund (SANCCOB) noticed the disease in Africa or chernolapogo penguin in a rehabilitation center. In the course of this year, about 59 percent of the penguin chicks lost their feathers, 97 percent left without a pen cover in 2007, and 20 percent of chickens lost their feathers in 2008.
Chicks in violation of the pen cover needed more time to grow feathers of a size that is sufficient to release the birds into the wild. Chicks up completely new feathers.
On the other side of the South Atlantic, scientists from WCS and Society at the University of Washington found violations of feathers from chickens Magellanskih wild penguins (closely related to African penguins) for the first time in 2007 on four different test areas along the coast of Argentina. The researchers also noted that while feathered chicks were trying to hide in the shade from the hot midday sun, finless chicks remained in the sun. Some chickens without feathers died during the analysis.
The loss of feathers has also been seen in African penguins, which inhabit the coastal and offshore islands of South Africa. In both cases, the penguin chicks are such violations have grown more slowly than feathered chicks. Chicks with disabilities also have a smaller size and weight, and both cases were the result of increased energy costs on thermoregulation in the absence of an insulating cover. So far, the possible causes are also pathogens, thyroid disorders, nutritional imbalances or genetics.
’The recent discovery of the loss of feathers in the population of wild birds suggests that such violations are something new "- said Mariana Varese, executive director of the Society WCS. "More studies of this disease can help identify the root cause, which in turn will help to take the possible solutions."
"We need to learn how to stop the spread of violations pen cover, as penguins already so affected by oil pollution and climate change" - the researchers noted. "It is important that this disease will not add to the list of threats that they currently face."
Original: Physorg Translation: M. Potter