Life thrives in Antarctic hot spots created by seal and penguin poop

first_img In the desolate Antarctic landscape, life is hard to come by—unless you’re near some seal and penguin poop. The nitrogen-rich feces enrich the soil and create hot spots with lots of biological diversity that can extend more than 1000 meters beyond the borders of penguin and seal colonies, according to a new study.Scientists trekked through fields of waste created by elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) and Antarctic penguins, including gentoo (Pygoscelis papua), chinstrap (P. antarcticus, pictured), and Adélie penguins (P. adeliae). The team examined the soil and plants surrounding these colonies at three separate locations along the Antarctic peninsula. Where there are more seals and penguins—and more of their poop—there was more biodiversity in the land, the researchers report today in Current Biology.The feces partially evaporate as ammonia, which then can get blown more than 1000 meters inland by the wind and is absorbed into the soil, the scientists note. This ammonia then creates a cycle of nutrient enrichment: The nitrogen is consumed by plants and lichens, which in turn support an incredible number of invertebrates, including mites, springtails, and roundworms. In fact, the team identified millions of invertebrates per square meter of soil surrounding the seal and penguin colonies—up to eight times higher than the number found in other parts of the peninsula. Life thrives in Antarctic hot spots created by seal and penguin poop These findings offer scientists a stronger understanding of how life can thrive in the coldest place on Earth. Now, the big question is whether these biodiversity hot spots will create perfect breeding grounds for something else: invasive plant species that can threaten the future of these environments. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Stef Bokhorst By Helen SantoroMay. 9, 2019 , 11:00 AM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more