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Species Identification - 

Penguins:  It’s Not All Black and White!

Maintaining a genetically viable population can be challenging… especially when some individuals look so similar and can hybridize.  This activity will illustrate how the use of restriction enzymes can prove to be a reliable test in determining the species identity in penguins. 

A note about this species…


The three species of penguins in this activity include Humboldt and Magellanic, both from the west coast of South America, and the African penguin from the east coast of that continent.  These species occupy similar niches in their own geographic ranges, acting as a secondary consumer eating fish and aquatic invertebrates and being preyed upon by larger carnivores.  These species are suffering from a great deal of added pressures, including pollution, introduced species that consume their eggs and chicks, habitat loss, competition with human overfishing, and more.  Managing healthy populations of these species in zoos is critical for their future survival.



Zoo Genetics Section 7 Penguins

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