Title The ecosystem evolution of penguin colonies in the past 8,500 years on Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica
Author Huang Jing; Sun Liguang; Huang, W.; Wang, X.; Wang Yuhong
Author Affil Huang Jing, University of Science and Technology of China, Institute of Polar Environment, Anhui, China. Other: Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, China; University of Wisconsin-Madison; National Institute of Health
Source Polar Biology, 33(10), p.1399-1406. Publisher: Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany. ISSN: 0722-4060
Publication Date Oct. 2010
Notes In English. 44 refs. GeoRef Acc. No: 309096
Index Terms Antarctica--East Antarctica; Antarctica--Vestfold Hills; Antarctica; Aves; Cenozoic; Chordata; East Antarctica; ecosystems; Gardner Island; Holocene; marine environment; Neornithes; paleoclimatology; paleoecology; paleoenvironment; Quaternary; Sphenisciformes; Tetrapoda; Vertebrata; Vestfold Hills
Abstract Penguin colony is one of the Earth's simplest ecosystems. As the seabird with the largest population in Antarctica, penguin is a unique indicator of Antarctic environment and climate changes. In this study, we collected an ornithogenic sediment core from Gardner Island in Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica, reconstructed an 8,500 years variation history of penguin population and vegetation abundance on this island, and examined the evolution of the penguin colony. We used the levels of two molecular markers cholesterol and cholestanol as the proxy indicators of penguin population size. Other molecular markers, including C24:0 alkenoic acid, C18 n-alkanol and phytol were used as the proxy indicators of aquatic moss, algae, and general vegetation, respectively. It is shown that the growth of algae was mainly affected by the nutritional supply from penguin droppings, so their abundance was positively linked with penguin population. The growth of aquatic moss, however, was controlled more by the degree of water body transparency than by nutrient availability. Because the pollution of water body increased as penguin population grew, aquatic moss abundance showed a seesaw-like relationship with penguin population. These results suggested that penguins played a dominant role in this simple ecosystem in the Antarctic environment. The reconstructed relationship between penguin population and vegetation abundance may offer new insights to understand ancient Antarctic environment and ecology.
URL http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00300-010-0832-x
Publication Type journal article
Record ID 91211