Jun 15, 2016

Full circumpolar migration ensures evolutionary unity in the Emperor penguin

Nature Communications
Robin CristofariEmiliano Trucchi

Abstract

Defining reliable demographic models is essential to understand the threats of ongoing environmental change. Yet, in the most remote and threatened areas, models are often based on the survey of a single population, assuming stationarity and independence in population responses. This is the case for the Emperor penguin Aptenodytes forsteri, a flagship Antarctic species that may be at high risk continent-wide before 2100. Here, using genome-wide data from the whole Antarctic continent, we reveal that this top-predator is organized as one single global population with a shared demography since the late Quaternary. We refute the view of the local population as a relevant demographic unit, and highlight that (i) robust extinction risk estimations are only possible by including dispersal rates and (ii) colony-scaled population size is rather indicative of local stochastic events, whereas the species' response to global environmental change is likely to follow a shared evolutionary trajectory.

Mentioned in this Paper

Sphenisciformes
Size
Animal Migration
Genome
Reproduction
Environment
Biological Adaptation
Predator
Yellow emperor protein, Drosophila
Underpopulation

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