Antarctic penguins have a wide range of adaptations that help them to survive in the hostile and extreme environment they call home. This essay will look at the key adaptations that these birds have and compare different species to outline the importance of the different morphological, physiological and behavioral features that allow them too survive in their environment.
The most obvious morphological adaptation is that of size. Penguins that reside on the Antarctic continent are larger in size than their non-Antarctic counterparts. This is evident with all warm blooded animals in cold climates ‘the Rockhopper is a fairly hefty 2.5kg . The Adelie and Emperor penguins of the deep south are larger still. Adult weights are 5kg (11lb) for the Adelie and 30kg (66lb) for the Emperor’ (Ward, 2001). The basic premise is that the larger the animal the smaller the size to surface area ratio is. If a little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor) was to live in Antarctic conditions it would loose a greater amount of body heat relative to its small size than an Emperor (Aptenodytes forsteri) penguin and this inefficiency would limit its chance of survival. Another factor is the abundance of food, in the Antarctic the food supply is vast and consistent due to such things as the convergence zone and seasonal plankton blooms contrast this to the Galapagos Islands where food supplies vary immensely due to the climate and currents. Because of this the Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is a smaller species of penguin compared to the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri).
Another key morphological adaptation is the presence of blubber as well as the feather variations in penguin species. Antarctic species have a layer of blubber that acts as an internal insulation layer. They also have multiple layers of feathers that cover their body. A top layer of short broad overlapping feathers covered with waterproofing oils, and multiple layers of inner down feathers that act...
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