[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 21-May-2013
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Contact: Mary Dixon
mdixon@wcs.org
347-840-1242
Wildlife Conservation Society

New penguin book features beloved birds and conservation threats

First book to bring together top experts on all penguin species, say Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Washington

IMAGE: These are Magellanic penguins on the shore of coastal Patagonia in Argentina. A new book on the world's penguins highlights both the diversity of these endearing, flightless birds as well...

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A new book on the world's penguins highlights both the diversity of these endearing, flightless birds as well as the many threats faced by these species, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Washington.

Published by the University of Washington, the book—titled Penguins: Natural History and Conservation—features the most current information on the world's living penguin species, a group which ranges throughout the waters of the Southern Hemisphere. The book also highlights the conservation status of each species and the challenges posed by human-related factors such as commercial fishing, coastal development, pollution, and climate change.

"This book is a valuable resource for not only penguin scientists and conservationists, but also members of the public who want to learn more about the world's penguins," said Dr. P. Dee Boersma of the University of Washington and a conservation scientist working with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Argentina. "Penguins are popular but the decline of many species is not widely known or understood by the public. Hopefully this book will fill an important niche in publicizing the plight of many penguins."

Penguins presents up-to-date profiles for all 18 species of penguin, complete with full-color photographs, charts, and graphs. The chapters focus on the stately emperor penguins of the Antarctic (and stars of the successful documentary movie March of the Penguins) as well as the Galapagos penguin, the most tropical member of the group. Less known species such as the yellow-eyed penguin and the smallest penguin of all—the little blue penguins—are also featured.

In addition to concise descriptions on taxonomy, range and distribution, and biology, each chapter includes information on population trends, status, and factors that put penguins at risk. The book also covers current conservation activities and recommends further research to increase knowledge about imperiled penguins, and actions to formulate better conservation plans for threatened populations.

"By bringing together the top experts for all of the world's penguin species, we have succeeded in producing a valuable resource for wildlife lovers and decision makers alike," said Dr. Pablo Garcia Borboroglu, a co-editor of the book also working in collaboration with WCS to protect penguins in Patagonia.

WCS has worked to conserve Magellanic penguins along the coast of Patagonia in Argentina for over 30 years since the 1980s. Together with local partner organizations WCS carried out successful conservation actions that reduced the number of penguin deaths due to oil spills at sea from more than 40,000 a year to fewer than 1,000 annually, and helped move oil shipping lanes 30 miles offshore to avoid spills affecting seabird colonies.

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