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Penguins rally from brink of extinction

Last Updated: Monday, February 27, 2012 - 14:04

Sydney: King penguin colonies have rallied from the brink of extinction and are well on the way to recovery thanks to recent conservation efforts, a study reveals.

Historically, two large colonies of king penguin populations on Macquarie Island were reduced to a single small colony as a result of harvesting for the blubber oil industry from 1889 onwards.

Researchers from the Griffith University`s Environmental Futures Centre used tissue samples of penguins from Macquarie Island and compared their DNA with that of their ancestors.

The research presents significant findings for conservationists seeking to monitor genetic diversity within the animal kingdom, the journal Biology Letters reported.

"This methodology has proven to be very effective in monitoring the diversity of animals over time and also allows us to improve the decision making around conservation strategies and the monitoring of their success," said Tim Heupink, who collaborated with John van den Hoff from the Australian Antarctic Division.

"For example, we show that halting exploitation and controlling fishing and pests is effective in recovering the genetic diversity of this species," said Heupink, according to a university statement.

"The ancient DNA methods implemented in this research reveal that the modern population is closely related and shows a similar level of genetic diversity to that recorded in the ancient population, prior to exploitation," said Heupink.


First Published: Monday, February 27, 2012 - 14:04
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