A New Study Claims that Penguin Feces Are Helping Biodiversity in Antarctica

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It may sound funny, but the actual poop of the penguins is helping the biodiversity in Antarctica. The study claims that excrements release nitrogen that has nutrients for a good life in Antarctica. The research was conducted by lead author Stef Bokhorst and was published in Current Biology. Stef Bokhorts is a polar ecologist with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands and is claiming that the excrements from penguins and elephants are increasing and cultivating life.

The Study

After more than 15 years of study upon Antarctica, Bokhorst and his team have found that the region’s temperature or humidity doesn’t influence the feces, only the number of animals in the colony. All the feces can have an impact on Antarctica’s biodiversity as far as 1.000 meters. Moreover, the chain of poop and biodiversity is very interesting. First, the feces are produced by penguins and seals. Second, from the poop, ammonia is evaporated. After that, with the help of the wind, the ammonia is scattered towards the land, where it’s entering into the soil. From there, it results in nitrogen that helps the penguin and seals to live.

On the other hand, penguins poop is not only helping them but the other animals as well like mosses, lichen, small invertebrates. So hilarious or not, a significant amount of excrements can do a lot of good for the animals in Antarctica. Bokhorst and his team have even mapped the hotspots of biodiversity across Antarctica. Unfortunately, the continent is challenging to study, and the cold temperatures, desolation, and the size are making things even worse.

To sum up, the study will continue with the purpose of finding what will happen in case of an invasion of other species, human activity, or climate changes on Antarctica. It is likely that good and healthy biodiversity could offer an ideal place for invasive species.


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