Scientists have managed to gather new details about Antarctic penguins, the Gentoo, from a rather uncommon source. They have turned to analyzing the sedimentary bodily remains of this species, which has led to new information on the history of the Gentoo penguins.
These Antarctic Penguins Were Almost Wiped Out By Their Habitat
Study results showed that this particular population has had to face not one but several volcanic eruptions. These were estimated to have taken place over the last 7,000 years. Throughout this period, the species had to fight for its survival and is said to have narrowly missed extinction.
The research was carried out by British Antarctic Survey scientists. They published their results in a paper in the Nature Communications journal. This study specifically analyzed the Gentoo penguin population living on Ardley Island. The isle is one of Antarctica’s closest points in relation to South America.
Research has shown that these Antarctic penguins have gone through quite their share of population highs and lows throughout their history. The species must have first settled in the area some thousands of years ago.
For this new study, the team turned to their ancient, sediment droppings. They did so in order to potentially find a reason for their fluctuations. As such, analysis results showed that these remains coincide with the effects of volcanic eruptions as well as the resulting falling ash. The source material for the study is said to have come from collecting local rock samples.
“By measuring the sediment chemistry, we were able to estimate the population numbers throughout the period and see how penguins were affected by the eruptions.”
This is according to the study’s lead researcher, Steve Roberts. Research results showed that at least 3 of the penguin population surges were cut short by a volcanic event. An analysis determined that the Antarctic penguins would have needed a median 400 to 800 to recover from the effects of such an event.
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