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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Counting Penguins From Space
13 April 2012 4:16 pm
Counting penguins isn't as hard as it might sound. (Hey, hold still!) Someone snaps a photograph of a colony and then marks up the picture to make sure that they aren't missing or double counting anybody. What is hard is getting to remote places, especially Antarctica. So a new approach is to use satellite images, and today researchers report the results of the first such comprehensive study. Scientists have found twice as many emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) as previously thought to exist, roughly 595,000 (plus or minus 81,000). They also came across seven new colonies (one shown at left), bringing the total to 44. To get the new number of birds, they had to enhance the images with a technique called pansharpening, which allowed them to distinguish between shadows, guano, and actual penguins. "This is a leap forward but it doesn't change the conservation concern [about] emperor penguins and many other species," says penguin expert P. Dee Boersma of the University of Washington, Seattle. "Unfortunately with climate warming and variation, we are likely to be studying the decline of emperor penguins. Satellite mapping will allow scientists to determine where the decline are occurring and by how much."
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