How emperor penguin's survived last Ice Age
A new study has provided a deeper insight into how the emperor penguin-'s survived the last Ice Age.
A new study has provided a deeper insight into how the emperor penguin's survived the last Ice Age.
The research mentioned that the climate change has affected emperor penguins over the last 30,000 years found that only three populations may have survived during the last ice age, and that the Ross Sea in Antarctica was likely the refuge for one of these populations.
The Ross Sea was likely to have been a shelter for emperor penguins for thousands of years during the last ice age, when much of the rest of Antarctica was uninhabitable due to the amount of ice.
The findings suggested that while current climate conditions may be optimal for emperor penguins, conditions in the past were too extreme for large populations to survive.
A team of researchers, led by scientists from the universities of Southampton, Oxford, Tasmania and the Australian Antarctic Division, and supported in Antarctica by Adventure Network International, examined the genetic diversity of modern and ancient emperor penguin populations in Antarctica to estimate how they had been changing over time.
The iconic species was famed for its adaptations to its icy world, breeding on sea ice during the Antarctic winter when temperatures regularly drop below -30 degree C.
However, the team discovered that conditions were probably too harsh for emperor penguins during the last ice age and that the population was roughly seven times smaller than today and split up into three refugial populations.
One of these polynyas that supported a population of emperor penguins throughout the last ice age was probably in the Ross Sea. The researchers found that emperor penguins that breed in the Ross Sea are genetically distinct from other emperor penguins around Antarctica.
Climate change might affect the Ross Sea last out of all regions of Antarctica. Due to changes in wind patterns associated with climate change, the Ross Sea has in fact experienced increases rather than decreases in the extent of winter sea ice over the last few decades, although this pattern was predicted to reverse by the end of the century.
The study is published in the journal Global Change Biology.