Population regulation and demography in Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) at three penguin colonies on Ross Island (Cape Bird, Cape Crozier and Cape Royds)
This study aims to investigate the factors regulating population size and colony distribution of Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) at three colonies on Ross Island (Cape Royds, Bird and Crozier) and when logistics allowed Beaufort Island through studying the importance of key resources (nesting space and food) and the way they are allocated by behavioural traits (philopatry, immigration and ... emigrations). A range of techniques was used to collect data. A sub-colony was fenced off and an automated weighbridge and data logger was installed at each colony. Several pairs of breeding birds were implanted with a passively interrogated transponder. When a bird steps on the weighbridge, the data logger would record direction of travel, weight and tag number, if a tag was present. These data were used to determine foraging effort (feeding trip duration and food load size). The productivity and chick condition index was measured in birds in the enclosure and those in an undisturbed colony to check for negative effects of the weighbridge. The stomach contents of Adelie penguin adults and chicks were examined for food prey species over time and between colonies. The diet quality was compared by analysing stable isotope (C and N) ratios in samples collected from dead chicks (protein rich, lipid poor tissue). GIS and satellite images were used to determine the effects of sea ice conditions on colony success (availability of food, breeding success, etc). To measure the effect of sea ice extent and availability of food on breeding success, 50 chicks/week/colony were randomly caught, weighed and flipper length measured to calculate a chick condition index as an indication of food availability during chick rearing stage. These data were comparable between years and colonies. To measure the immigration/emigration and philopatry behaviour role in colony size and distribution, chicks were banded at each colony (up to 1000 chicks/colony/season). In following seasons, searches were made for banded penguins at all colonies to estimate age specific fecundity and survival rates, age of first breeding and to measure immigration/emigration rates for each of the study colonies. The role of natal philopatry in the structure of colony formation was assessed by measuring genetic homogeneity among and within the colonies on Ross Island using mitochondrial DNA analysis. Radio telemetry, satellite tracking and time depth recorders were used to track individual penguins at sea to determine their foraging behaviour. To track post breeding migration, winter migration and over wintering feeding grounds, archival tags that determine geo-location were deployed on birds from Cape Royds and Crozier. Birds were recaptured the following season and data downloaded.
Blood samples and biometrics (e.g. weight and flipper length) collected from TDR adults to determine physiological capabilities collected, as well as biometrics from natal chicks. Dorsal and ventral feathers collected from each of the birds fitted with devices to determine sex. Productivity (chicks per pair), peak hatch and peak creche data collected using 2-3 Reference colonies and egg, chick and adult counts of 15 sub-colonies annually since 1996. Foraging trip frequencies and food load sizes collected using weighbridge measured annually between 20 Nov to 20 Jan. Chick condition index (weights and flipper length) collected weekly between 26 Dec and 22 Jan. Blood samples to determine pathogen loadings collected from breeding and non-breeding birds during the 2010-11 season at Cape Bird and (Cape Crozier via B-031). Mammal point surveys conducted opportunistically (daily mostly) since 2000.
Project co-ordinator homepage. Please contact Phil Lyver for more information regarding data.
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The data has been collected by Landcare Research and is held at this organisation. Please contact the investigator for more information.
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(+31) 30 274 3833
(+31) 30 274 4427
kees.klein.goldewijk at mnp.nl
Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (MNP)
Box 303, NL-3720 AH
Tyler.B.Stevens at nasa.gov
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Global Change Master Directory
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Kutzbach, J.E., and P.J. Guetter (1986). The influence of changing
orbital parameters and surface boundary conditions on climate
simulations for the past 18,000 years. Journal of the Atmospheric
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Wright, H.E., J.E. Kutzbach, T. Webb III, W.F. Ruddiman,
F.A. Street-Perrott, and P.J. Bartlein, ed. (1993). Global Climates
since the Last Glacial Maximum., University of Minnesota Press,
Minneapolis, MN, 569 pp.
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