Flora And Fauna of Antarctica – What Animals and Plants Exist There?

Emperor penguens in Antarctica

Can there be animal life in a place where everything is ice, snow and wind? Believe it or not, wildlife in Antarctica has managed to adapt to these extreme conditions and take advantage of the resources at its disposal. Learn about the species that inhabit the ‘white continent’ in the following article. www.travelrows.com

How Is The Fauna In Antarctica?

Located in the southern hemisphere and twice the size of Australia, Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest continent on the planet. The average temperature reaches -60 ° C! But despite these adverse conditions, several animals – and some plants have been able to adapt and survive:

1. Emperor Penguin

It is one of the species of penguins that inhabit Antarctica – the others are yellow plume, Adelaide, Chinstrap, Papua and King – and the largest of the entire Spheniscidae family. It is characterized by having a white chest and the rest of the body black (it is said that it is always in suit), although the chicks are grayish.

The penguin cannot fly, but it has rigid wings adapted to the marine habitat … It is an expert swimmer! It can reproduce in the desolate Antarctic winter: the female lays only one egg per season and the male transports it walking up to 100 kilometers with the other ‘parents’.

2. Antarctic Sea Lion

He lives not only in Antarctica, but also in southern Argentina and Chile, and according to sex they have a different coat color: brown in adult males and gray in females. In addition, the former can weigh 230 kilos and measure two meters, while females do not exceed 50 kilos and 140 centimeters.

3. Antarctic Krill

Several of the Antarctic marine species feed on this tiny crustacean – no more than six centimeters in length – that lives in schools that reach up to 30,000 specimens in areas where the water has a temperature between -1.3 and 3 ° C.

4. Antarctic Mosquito

It is the only insect of that family that can survive in such cold and extreme environments; The Belgian Antarctic – its scientific name – is an endemic species of the region and also has the honor of being the only completely terrestrial animal on the white continent. Interesting fact – it has the ability to stay alive even after two years of freezing its body fluids or not breathing oxygen for a month and is dark in color to absorb all available heat.

5. Petrel Snowy

This white bird in its entirety, with the exception of its small black beak, measures about 40 centimeters, although it almost doubles in size with wings extended in full flight. It is one of the characteristic species within the fauna of Antarctica and the south pole. It lays only one egg per litter, which is incubated for 49 days; It feeds on fish, mollusks and even carrion, and can live up to 20 years.

6. Colossal Squid

It is one of the invertebrates, next to the giant squid , larger – it can reach 14 meters long and weigh 750 kilos – and a good part of its body is formed by two long prehensile tentacles, in addition to eight shorter arms.
The sexual dimorphism in the colossal squid is such that the female is three times the size of the male, as well as a more robust body. Very little is known about this animal that inhabits the entire Antarctic region; It feeds on plankton and small squid.

7. Weddell Seal

He lives in large herds in the southern hemisphere and mainly in Antarctica. He does not emigrate and only ‘moves’ in the region in search of food and shelter. They can withstand the cold due to the large layers of fat that line their body and males are smaller than females.

They have the ability to submerge up to 600 meters in frozen waters and hold their breath for almost an hour due to the large amount of myoglobin that accumulates in their muscles and blood. It feeds on squid, cod and other marine species.

How Is The Flora In Antarctica?

Mosses and seaweed. In the sea that surrounds the Antarctic there is a great diversity of seaweed, some of huge 30 meter long leaflets and just over half a meterwide, as well as microscopic algae.

As already said the Antarctic flora is led by the group of lichens, very adapted to the Antarctic climate, which made them extremely resistant and able to survive in extreme conditions. Its organisms are made up of a fungus and an algae – which is usually unicellular – symbioticly linked. The fungus allows you to maintain hydration and protect yourself from unfavorable conditions, while the seaweed gives it a synthesized carbohydrate that it uses as food.

  • Mosses. Some known fungi are Gantarina antarctica and Omphalina antarctica.
  • Genders. Some of them are Barbilophozia, Cephaloziella, Merchantia, Metzgeria or Riccardia.
  • Green algae reproduce vegetatively by cell division and fragmentation; by spores and zoospores (axesual).
  • Yellowish or reddish. They are microscopic organisms called Crioseston,

Without considering the scarce Antarctic terrestrial vegetation, which group remains better able to do photosynthesis, grow, and reproduce with low temperatures and reduced levels of light and humidity, also supporting major changes between stations?

The lichen seems to be the answer

More than 150 species have been registered, subantarctic archipelagos. Its orange, yellow, green tones, in its structure that the algae and produces the reproductive organs. They have no capacity to store water, its net photosynthesis is low, and varies with water content or temperature.

The evolution of lichen is slow. It is estimated that some talos exceed 4. 500 years of life Mosses, meanwhile, survive in conditions almost as extreme as lichen, preferring soft substrate stains. They add at least 75 species in Antarctica.

Mosses grow well in bird nesting sites, due to the contribution of nutrients from guano.The nitrogen-rich feces of the penguins also favor certain algae and kill of Nostoc cyanobacteria, nitrogen fixers in the air.

Flowering plants

Among the flowering plants, there are only two representatives and they grow during the summer in snow-free habitats north of the Antarctic Peninsula and nearby islands. It is the Antarctic Deschampsia step and the less frequent Antarctic carnation (Colobanthus quietensis). Its flowers are hermaphrodites. The wind is the transporter of pollen grains for grass and at least there would beself-fertilization in Colobanthus. It has been proven that for more than two decades the area of distribution of both species is on the rise.

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