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From sea to land: assessment of the bio-transport of phosphorus by penguins in Antarctica

Qin, Xianyan, Sun, Liguang, Blais, Jules M., Wang, Yuhong, Huang, Tao, Huang, Wen, Xie, Zhouqing
Chinese journal of oceanology and limnology 2014 v.32 no.1 pp. 148-154
adults, animal manures, breeding, penguins, phosphorus, seabirds, seawater, terrestrial ecosystems, Antarctica
In Antarctica, the marine ecosystem is dynamically interrelated with the terrestrial ecosystem. An example of the link between these two ecosystems is the biogeochemical cycle of phosphorus. Biovectors, such as penguins, transport phosphorus from sea to land, play a key role in this cycle. In this paper, we selected three colonies of penguins, the most important seabirds in Antarctica, and computed the annual quantity of phosphorus transferred from sea to land by these birds. Our results show that adult penguins from colonies at Ardley Island, the Vestfold Hills, and Ross Island could transfer phosphorus in the form of guano at up to 12 349, 167 036, and 97 841 kg/a, respectively, over their breeding period. These quantities are equivalent to an annual input of 3.96×10⁹–1.63×10¹⁰ kg of seawater to the land of Antarctica. Finally, we discuss the impact of phosphorus on the ice-free areas of the Antarctica.