2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
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2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

A multi-scale approach to understanding spatial and population variability in emperor penguins

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B-243-M Research Location(s): Ross Sea coastline


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns / Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Michelle Ann LaRue
University of Minnesota
Department of Geological Sciences
Stillwater, Minnesota


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Ross Sea coastline


Emperor penguins are found in colonies around the Antarctic coastline and rely on fast ice (sea ice physically adhered to land) for the majority of their life cycle. As such, they are susceptible to environmental change, such as decreases in the extent and duration of sea ice around Antarctica. Using satellite remote sensing, and ground and aerial survey estimates, this project will generate population estimates for every colony of emperor penguins (54 are known currently) over the course of 10 years. Researchers will also integrate the population trends with environmental variables (e.g., sea-ice extent and duration) to learn about conditions that may influence population fluctuations and whether those fluctuations are global or regional in nature.

Field Season Overview

A group of four team members will deploy to McMurdo Station in mid October. They will remain at the station four weeks and will fly aerial surveys over emperor penguin colonies within the vicinity of the station, including one Basler aircraft flight covering Beaufort Island, Franklin Island, Cape Washington, Coulman Island, and Cape Roget; and up to four helicopter flights over Cape Crozier and possibly Beaufort Island. During surveys, the researchers will take photographs through the windows and record bird counts. The four team members will work out of the Crary Laboratory on station.

Deploying Team Members

  • David Iles
  • Stephanie Jenouvrier (Co-PI)
  • Sara Labrousse
  • Michelle LaRue (PI)
  • Leonardo Salas