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From warm to cold: migration of Adélie penguins within Cape Bird, Ross Island
Nie, Y.; Sun, L.; Liu, X.; Emslie, S.D. (2015). From warm to cold: migration of Adélie penguins within Cape Bird, Ross Island. NPG Scientific Reports 5(11530): 10 pp.
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Nie, Y.
  • Sun, L.
  • Liu, X.
  • Emslie, S.D.

    Due to their sensitivity to environmental change, penguins in Antarctica are widely used as bio-indicators in paleoclimatic research. On the basis of bio-element assemblages identified in four ornithogenic sediment profiles, we reconstructed the historical penguin population change at Cape Bird, Ross Island, for the past 1600 years. Clear succession of penguin population peaks were observed in different profiles at about 1400 AD, which suggested a high probability of migration within this region. The succession was most obviously marked by a sand layer lasting from 1400 to 1900 AD in one of the analyzed profiles. Multiple physical/chemical parameters indicated this sand layer was not formed in a lacustrine environment, but was marine-derived. Both isostatic subsidence and frequent storms under the colder climatic condition of the Little Ice Age were presumed to have caused the abandonment of the colonies, and we believe the penguins migrated from the coastal area of mid Cape Bird northward and to higher ground as recorded in the other sediment profiles. This migration was an ecological response to global climate change and possible subsequent geological effects in Antarctica.

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