Full circumpolar migration ensures evolutionary unity in the Emperor penguin

Daniel.Zitterbart [ at ] awi.de


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.

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Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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DOI 10.1038/ncomms11842

Cite as
Cristofari, R. , Bertorelle, G. , Ancel, A. , Benazzo, A. , Le Maho, Y. , Ponganis, P. J. , Stenseth, N. C. , Trathan, P. N. , Whittington, J. D. , Zanetti, E. , Zitterbart, D. , Le Bohec, C. and Trucchi, E. (2016): Full circumpolar migration ensures evolutionary unity in the Emperor penguin , Nature Communications, 7 , p. 11842 . doi: 10.1038/ncomms11842



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