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The ecosystem evolution of penguin colonies in the past 8,500 years on Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica

【标题】The ecosystem evolution of penguin colonies in the past 8,500 years on Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica

【Title】The ecosystem evolution of penguin colonies in the past 8,500 years on Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica

【作者】 黄婧; 孙立广; 王新民

【Author】 Huang Jing ; Sun Liguang ; Wang Xinmin

【期刊】Polar Biology

【Journal】Polar Biology

【期刊年份】2010

【卷】33

【期】10

【关键词】 Antarctica; Penguin colony; Ecosystem evolution; Molecular marker; Ornithogenic sediment; Fecal sterol

【Keywords】 Antarctica; Penguin colony; Ecosystem evolution; Molecular marker; Ornithogenic sediment; Fecal sterol

【摘要】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.

【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.

【基金/项目】 2010年度极地科学优秀论文(青年奖) ; 全新世南极南海典型岛屿对全球变化的生态响应与对比 ; 南极主要海洋生物资源和生态过程监测与评估技术研究 ; 东南极戴维斯站企鹅粪土沉积物有机地球化学特征

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