Chinese Journal of Oceanology and Limnology

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 148–154 | Cite as

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

  • Xianyan Qin (秦先燕)
  • Liguang Sun (孙立广)Email author
  • Jules M. Blais
  • Yuhong Wang (王玉宏)
  • Tao Huang (黄涛)
  • Wen Huang (黄温)
  • Zhouqing Xie (谢周清)


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.


Southern Ocean sea-land ecosystem phosphorus cycle penguin guano 


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Copyright information

© Chinese Society for Oceanology and Limnology, Science Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xianyan Qin (秦先燕)
    • 1
  • Liguang Sun (孙立广)
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jules M. Blais
    • 2
  • Yuhong Wang (王玉宏)
    • 3
  • Tao Huang (黄涛)
    • 1
  • Wen Huang (黄温)
    • 1
    • 4
  • Zhouqing Xie (谢周清)
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Polar Environment, School of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  2. 2.Program for Chemical and Environmental Toxicology, Department of BiologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Advanced Management Research CenterNingbo UniversityNingboChina
  4. 4.Department of GeneticsNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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