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Sci Rep. 2014 Jun 12;4:5024. doi: 10.1038/srep05024.

A reversal of fortunes: climate change 'winners' and 'losers' in Antarctic Peninsula penguins.

Author information

1
1] Ocean and Earth Sciences, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK [2] Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK.
2
British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK.
3
Ocean and Earth Sciences, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK.
4
Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC, 28403, USA.
5
Oceanites Inc, PO Box 15259, Chevy Chase, MD 20825, USA.
6
Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, 02543, USA.
7
Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK.

Abstract

Climate change is a major threat to global biodiversity. Antarctic ecosystems are no exception. Investigating past species responses to climatic events can distinguish natural from anthropogenic impacts. Climate change produces 'winners', species that benefit from these events and 'losers', species that decline or become extinct. Using molecular techniques, we assess the demographic history and population structure of Pygoscelis penguins in the Scotia Arc related to climate warming after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). All three pygoscelid penguins responded positively to post-LGM warming by expanding from glacial refugia, with those breeding at higher latitudes expanding most. Northern (Pygoscelis papua papua) and Southern (Pygoscelis papua ellsworthii) gentoo sub-species likely diverged during the LGM. Comparing historical responses with the literature on current trends, we see Southern gentoo penguins are responding to current warming as they did during post-LGM warming, expanding their range southwards. Conversely, Adélie and chinstrap penguins are experiencing a 'reversal of fortunes' as they are now declining in the Antarctic Peninsula, the opposite of their response to post-LGM warming. This suggests current climate warming has decoupled historic population responses in the Antarctic Peninsula, favoring generalist gentoo penguins as climate change 'winners', while Adélie and chinstrap penguins have become climate change 'losers'.

PMID:
24865774
PMCID:
PMC4034736
DOI:
10.1038/srep05024
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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