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Too much of a good thing: sea ice extent may have forced emperor penguins into refugia during the last glacial maximum


Younger, JL and Clucas, GV and Kooyman, G and Wienecke, B and Rogers, AD and Trathan, PN and Hart, T and Miller, KJ, Too much of a good thing: sea ice extent may have forced emperor penguins into refugia during the last glacial maximum, Global Change Biology, 21, (6) pp. 2215-2226. ISSN 1354-1013 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/gcb.12882


The relationship between population structure and demographic history is critical to understanding microevolution and for predicting the resilience of species to environmental change. Using mitochondrial DNA from extant colonies and radiocarbon-dated subfossils, we present the first microevolutionary analysis of emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) and show their population trends throughout the last glacial maximum (LGM, 19.5–16 kya) and during the subsequent period of warming and sea ice retreat. We found evidence for three mitochondrial clades within emperor penguins, suggesting that they were isolated within three glacial refugia during the LGM. One of these clades has remained largely isolated within the Ross Sea, while the two other clades have intermixed around the coast of Antarctica from Adélie Land to the Weddell Sea. The differentiation of the Ross Sea population has been preserved despite rapid population growth and opportunities for migration. Low effective population sizes during the LGM, followed by a rapid expansion around the beginning of the Holocene, suggest that an optimum set of sea ice conditions exist for emperor penguins, corresponding to available foraging area.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Antarctica, Aptenodytes forsteri, climate change ecology, molecular ecology, paleoecology, phylogeography, polynya, Ross Sea
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Biogeography and phylogeography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
UTAS Author:Younger, JL (Ms Jane Younger)
UTAS Author:Miller, KJ (Dr Karen Miller)
ID Code:105756
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:27
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2016-01-14
Last Modified:2016-11-15

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