But what about the penguin microbiota?
This is a question Deakin University’s Meagan Dewar and her team seek to answer. Around half of penguin species are under threat, thanks to climate change, disease, overfishing and pollution.
Dewar wants to find out how penguin gut microbes react to such changes in the environment.
“If the community of microbes in a penguin’s gut is altered in some way, for example, by changes in their diet due to depletion of their preferred prey, it can leave the animal more susceptible to disease,” Dewar says – but little is known about the microbes that colonise the penguin gut.
So she’s aiming to raise $10,000 to sequence of the microbes of king, gentoo, macaroni and little penguins. You can help by donating to Dewar’s crowdfunding campaign, Penguin Microbes. It finishes on 6 December.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.