2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Adélie penguin response to climate change in the Ross Sea region – a full life-cycle approach

Adélie penguin response to climate change in the Ross Sea region – a full life-cycle approach


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1543541

Program Manager:
Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Jennifer Blum

Principal Investigator

Dr. David Ainley

H.T. Harvey & Associates
Los Gatos, California

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Capes Crozier and Royds


Sea-ice on the Ross Sea is expanding. How that affects Antarctic marine biota is unknown. This study aims to better understand the biotic effects of these changes using a widely recognized indicator species, the Adélie penguin. Researchers will outfit penguins with time-depth recorders to monitor foraging efforts and record breeding activities of marked individuals. These data will lead to a better understanding of how changing sea-ice conditions affect penguins through their annual cycles and through individuals’ lifetimes, and will infer how climate change may influence their populations.

Field Season Overview

Participants will deploy this season to continue their long-term study of Adelie Penguin demographics and response to environmental change in the Ross Sea. Deployments will be staggered throughout the field season. Team members will travel via helicopter and occupy camps at two field sites, Cape Royds and Cape Crozier. They will identify marked penguins at each location, collect breeding behavior data, deploy various instrumentation to obtain foraging and location data, and band new penguins near the end of the season. In addition, the team will install a new, grantee-built weighbridge scale at Cape Crozier.

Deploying Team Members

  • TBA 3
  • David Ainley (PI)
  • Grant Ballard (Co-PI)
  • Katie Dugger (Co-PI)
  • Megan Elrod
  • Dennis Jongsomjit
  • Amelie Lescroel (Co-PI)
  • Jean Pennycook
  • Nathaniel Polish
  • Anne Schmidt