2013-2014 Science Planning Summaries
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Adélie penguin response to climate change at the individual, colony, and metapopulation levels

Program Manager:
Dr. Christian Fritsen

Event Number: B-031-M

ASC POC/Implementer:
Addie Coyac / Jessica Jenkins

Dr. David Ainley (Principal Investigator)
http://www.penguinscience.comExternal Non U.S. Government Site

H.T. Harvey & Associates
Los Gatos, California

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Beaufort, Franklin, Inexpressible Islands / Capes Bird, Crozier, Royds

Project Description:
Since 1996, this study has involved novel technology and experimentation including natural experiments and long hours finding banded birds at three colonies of widely disparate sizes occurring in a metapopulation. While changes in populations typically are tracked to gauge response to climate or habitat change, the process actually involves the response of individuals as each copes with an altered environment. During this study spanning 15 breeding seasons, researchers have found that 20 percent of individuals within a colony successfully raise offspring, and that they do so because of exemplary foraging proficiency. Moreover, foraging requires more effort at the largest colony, where intra-specific competition is higher than at small colonies and requires more proficiency during periods of environmental stress, e.g., anomalous sea-ice conditions. Not only is breeding success and eventual recruitment involved in this species’ response to environmental change, but, when conditions are particularly daunting, so is emigration, countering the long-standing assumption that Adélie penguins are highly philopatric. This project is a collaboration of six co-PIs from the United States, New Zealand, and France and will continue the outreach and education program, including webisodes and PenguinScience.com.

Field Season Overview:
Eleven field team members will deploy camps to Capes Crozier and Royds, and will make day trips to Cape Bird and, depending on sea ice conditions, Beaufort Island. The field work from late October to early February spans the Adelie nesting season. On foot, team members will look for penguins previously banded as chicks to collect data and log their breeding status. To investigate foraging as it affects breeding effort, researchers will deploy time-depth-recorders at each site. Computerized weighbridges will continue to log trip duration and food loads. This species of penguin does not mature until 3-8 years of age, thus, even after 15 years researchers are just beginning to see breeders among the birds banded as chicks. This project will also collaborate with Stacy Kim (B-174-M) and Walker Smith/Vern Asper (B-042) by attaching instruments to additional penguins.

Deploying Team Members:

  • David Ainley (PI)
  • Katie Dugger (Co-PI)
  • Megan Elrod
  • Scott Jennings
  • Peter Kappes
  • Amelie Lescroel (Co-PI)
  • Melanie Massaro (Co-PI)
  • Jean Pennycook
  • Anne Schmidt
  • Alison Shilling
  • Arvind Varsani

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