Genetics Reveals Where Emperor Penguins Survived The Last Ice Age

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University of Southampton. (2015, March 1). Genetics reveals where emperor penguins survived the last ice age.
March 4, 2015
Retrieved from Science Daily
The main topic of this article is about a study on the survival and distribution of Emperor Penguin populations over the last 30,000 before and after the last ice age. Scientists found that only three populations may have survived that ice age, and that the Ross Sea was most likely one of the places one of these populations survived in. Scientists speculate that conditions were so harsh that penguin populations were about 7 times smaller than they are today. Penguins were unable to breed in more than a few locations.

This Article focuses on Big Idea One: The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.

The Author’s take on this subject was well shown, with plenty of information provided. I myself found this article fascinating. The subject of this article gives the reader a view into an ongoing example of evolution- this population, from the last 30,000 years, has changed dramatically, and will keep on changing. Studies such as these also help researchers see the change experienced by past populations of species, and giving insight to things like the harsh conditions and climate these creatures lived in.

University of Southampton. (2015, March 1). Genetics reveals where emperor penguins survived the last ice age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from

The Ross Sea is 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, published today in the journal Global Change Biology, suggest 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 is famed for its adaptations to its icy world, breeding on sea ice during the Antarctic winter when temperatures regularly drop below -30 °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.
Gemma Clucas, a PhD student from Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton and one of the lead authors of the paper, explained: "Due to there being about twice as much sea ice during the last ice age, the penguins were unable to breed in more than a few locations around Antarctica. The distances from the open ocean, where the penguins feed, to the stable sea ice, where they breed, was probably too far. The three populations that did manage to survive may have done so by breeding near to polynyas -- areas of ocean that are kept