2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2018-2019 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
B-031-M Research Location(s): On station / Capes Royds and Crozier


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1543541

Program Manager:
Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Jennifer Blum

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. David Ainley
H.T. Harvey & Associates
Los Gatos, California

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: On station / Capes Royds and Crozier


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 Adélie penguin demographics and response to environmental change in the Ross Sea. Deployments will be staggered throughout the field season. Team members will travel by helicopter and occupy camps at two field sites, Cape Royds and Cape Crozier, starting in late October. The team will also conduct surveys by helicopter along the fast-ice edge in McMurdo Sound. The team 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. If helicopter support via the United States Coast Guard were to become available, the team would request access to the Beaufort Island Adélie penguin colony.

Deploying Team Members

  • David Ainley (PI)
  • Grant Ballard (Co-PI)
  • Virginia Clapés-Sagañoles
  • Katie Dugger (Co-PI)
  • Megan Elrod (Team Leader)
  • Amelie Lescroel (Co-PI)
  • Jean Pennycook
  • Nathaniel Polish
  • Anne Schmidt (Team Leader)
  • Arvind Varsani