K122: Adélie Penguin Population Dynamics

K122: Adélie Penguin Population Dynamics


Phil Lyver
Landcare Research Ltd

What we do: This collaborative project (joint NZ/US) addresses the theoretical question "What mechanisms control population size and colony distribution of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae)?". The project distinguishes the relative importance of key resources (nesting space and food) that constrain growth of colonies, and examine behavioural (immigration/emigration and breeding effort/success) mechanisms that may influence colony size.

Why we do it: The results of this study help us to understand the impact of climate change and human impacts (fisheries, tourism, pollution) on the Antarctic marine ecosystem.

Some things we've found out: Due to the heavy sea ice conditions that have existed in the McMurdo Sound area since 1999 and the presence of large icebergs, Cape Bird penguins trying to raise chicks have had a hard time. They've had to walk further to get to their chicks, and the chicks have been lighter and fewer than pre-1999 figures. At the more northerly Cape Hallett colony where 'normal' sea sea conditions prevail, the average chick weight was greater than at Cape Bird.

 Metadata and website links

Population counts and monitoring of the breeding cycle of Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) throughout an entire breeding season at Cape Royds

Census data using aerial photographs on the number of breeding Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) at colonies in the Ross Sea region

Population regulation and demography in Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) at Cape Bird, Ross Island

Population regulation and demography in Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) at Cape Hallett

Aerial photographs and ground counts for assessing breeding success of Adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) rookeries on Ross Island

Validating a new method for measuring stress levels of Adelie penguins

Penguin Science webpage