Observing animals in the wild while not disturbing them is a classic challenge for behavioral ecologists. But as a new study shows, the use of remotely operated robots to observe penguins and seals in their natural habitats can result in significantly lower and shorter stress responses.
For the new study, Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg in France and colleagues sought to find out if remote-controlled rovers could substitute for intrusive human observers. Indeed, efforts to study these sensitive creatures have never been more important. The latest research suggests that global warming will reduce Antarctica's emperor penguin population by nearly 20% over the next 80 years.