30 January, 2009 News stories

A gentoo penguin slumps belly-first on a nest at Damoy, on the Antarctic Peninsula. Nearby some lichen grows across a rock, and schools of krill float through the Southern Ocean. Every one of these organisms is a part of life in the Antarctic, and scientists study each of them.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) pair courtship display
Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) pair courtship display

But what happens to one species affects all the others too. To help make sure that they all survive, scientists have to understand how penguins, plants, krill and everything else in the Antarctic interact with one another. They need to figure out the rules of the ecosystem. Anje-Margriet Neutel is a Biosphere Complexity Analyst for the British Antarctic Survey. It’s her job to take a big puzzle like the Antarctic ecosystem, and work out where each plant and animal fits in. She explains that ‘complexity is sort of a new brand of science’. Read more in Computer Science for Fun.

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