Generalist vs. specialist

By: Arjen Drost

Feb 25 2017

Category: Birds, nature, Photography, Polar

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Gentoo Penguin

Two species of penguin breed on Peterman Island near the Antarctic Peninsula, the Adelie and the Gentoo Penguin. The Adelie is well adapted to life in Antarctica. We’ve seen them breed as far south as 77ºS in the Ross Sea. It’s a real cold climate specialist and dependent on ice for food. Gentoos are much more generalists. For them Peterman is one of the southernmost colonies and they don’t need ice for their survival.

When I came for the first time to Peterman, in 2006, around 60% of all penguins on the island were Gentoos, the other 40% Adelies. This year only a few hundreds Adelies were left and they were far outnumbered by their Gentoo counterparts. The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the areas that heat up most with the changing climate and because of this, the generalist can outcompete the specialist…