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Antarctica II. Stuff you might not know about life on (and around) the frozen continent. Terrestrial animals. Rotifer. Nematode. Tardigrade. Springtail. Mite. Belgica antarctica – the Antarctic Midge. Truly weird habitats. Lake Vostok. Adelie penguin. Animalia; Chordata; Aves

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Antarctica II

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Antarctica ii l.jpg

Antarctica II

Stuff you might not know about life on (and around) the frozen continent

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Terrestrial animals






Belgica antarctica the antarctic midge l.jpg

Belgica antarctica – the Antarctic Midge

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Truly weird habitats

  • Lake Vostok

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Adelie penguin

  • Animalia; Chordata; Aves

  • Sphenisciformes; Spheniscidae

  • Pygoscelis adeliae

Dumont d’Urville (1790-1842)

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Adelie Penguin colonies

  • 500 – 250,000 individuals

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Adult Adelie penguins

  • Males arrive, build ‘nest’, compete for mates

  • Competition for stones

  • Females arrive, lay egg, share incubation with male (although she often disappears for 10 days at a time!)

  • Incubation and feeding shared

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Life cycle of an Adelie Penguin

  • Hatch, eat and eat and eat…

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Life cycle of an Adelie Penguin

  • Hatch, eat and eat and eat…


  • Nests break down and chicks form Creches

  • Chick goes through rebellious teen years, moults and goes to sea for 1-3 years, coming ashore only to moult once a year

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Thermal issues

  • Water is cold!

  • Ice is cold!

  • Nest is cold!

  • Air is cold (but doesn’t dissipate heat easily)

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Predators and mortality

  • Leopard seals (in water)

  • Skuas (of chicks and eggs)

  • ~95% mortality between fledging and first reproduction

    • Life history consequences

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Links to the ocean

  • Colony sites are all on ice-free ground near open water

    • Changes in availability of ice = changes in number of colonies

    • Walking to reach water = very expensive

    • Change in diet during season

    • If fishery crashes, so do the penguins

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Penguins track the environment

The Adelie Penguin: Bellwether of climate change

David Ainley

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Why don’t fish freeze?

Water temperature?

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Why don’t fish freeze?

  • Seawater temperature:

    • -1.86 °C

  • Melting point of body fluids:

    • -0.6 °C

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Why don’t fish freeze?

  • Fish are regularly in contact with ice

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Why don’t fish freeze?

  • The freezing point is not the same as the melting point

    • “Thermal Hysteresis”

  • Antifreeze proteins

Arthur L. De Vries

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Why don’t fish freeze?

  • Antifreeze proteins

    • Made in the pancreas

    • Circulate throughout body fluids

    • Prevent ice crystals in the fish from growing

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