Full circumpolar migration ensures evolutionary unity in the Emperor penguin

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Cristofari, Robin
Bertorelle, Giorgio
Ancel, André
Benazzo, Andrea
Le Maho, Yvon
Ponganis, Paul J.
Stenseth, Nils Christian
Trathan, Phil N.
Whittington, Jason D.
Zanetti, Enrico
Zitterbart, Daniel
Le Bohec, Céline
Trucchi, Emiliano
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Defining reliable demographic models is essential to understand the threats of ongoing environmental change. Yet, in the most remote and threatened areas, models are often based on the survey of a single population, assuming stationarity and independence in population responses. This is the case for the Emperor penguin Aptenodytes forsteri, a flagship Antarctic species that may be at high risk continent-wide before 2100. Here, using genome-wide data from the whole Antarctic continent, we reveal that this top-predator is organized as one single global population with a shared demography since the late Quaternary. We refute the view of the local population as a relevant demographic unit, and highlight that (i) robust extinction risk estimations are only possible by including dispersal rates and (ii) colony-scaled population size is rather indicative of local stochastic events, whereas the species’ response to global environmental change is likely to follow a shared evolutionary trajectory.
© The Author(s), 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Nature Communications 7 (2016): 11842, doi:10.1038/ncomms11842.
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Nature Communications 7 (2016): 11842
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