Penguin poop feeds Antarctic moss

This is a video by Professor Sharon Robinson from Australia about Antarctic mosses.

By Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet:

Antarctic Moss Lives Off Penguin Poop

Curiosity about how Antarctic moss survives in such harsh conditions leads to an interesting discovery.

Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:25 PM ET


The moss grows in the Antarctic summer and can be an indicator of climate change.

Using nitrogen analysis of the soil, scientists found nutrients from seabirds’ waste entering the plants.

Verdant green carpets of moss that emerge during the brief Antarctic summer have an unusual food source, a new study reports: The mosses eat nitrogen from fossilized penguin poop.

Plant biologist Sharon Robinson, who has studied the mosses for 16 years, sought to find their nutrient source; Antarctic soil generally lacks nourishment for plants. “Most of the soil is very, very poorly developed; it’s mostly just gravel,” said Robinson, a professor at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia. …

The researchers confirmed the nitrogen came from penguin poop because the moss beds grow on abandoned Adélie penguin colonies. The sites, on the Windmill Islands, are 3,000 to 8,000 years old, and increase in age with distance from the ocean. The colonies are now too high in elevation for nesting (the Earth’s crust in Antarctica has been rising since the end of the last ice age).

ScienceDaily (Aug. 29, 2012) — In a paper published this week in the journal Polar Biology, researchers from the Antarctic Site Inventory confirm significant declines in the breeding population of chinstrap penguins in the vastly warming Antarctic Peninsula, where it’s warming faster than, or as fast as, any other place on Earth: here.

4 thoughts on “Penguin poop feeds Antarctic moss

  1. Pingback: Chinstrap penguins hurt by global warming | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Adélie penguins monitored by camera | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Antarctic gentoo penguins, video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: What Adélie penguins eat, study with spacecraft | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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