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.