2023-2024 USAP Field Season
Population growth at the southern extreme: Effects of early life conditions on Adélie penguin individuals and colonies
Dr. Grant Ballard
Project Web Site:
Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
In the Ross Sea region, one of the largest Adélie penguin colonies in the world is growing quickly, despite signs of negative density dependence. Building on a long-term biologging and demographic datasets, this team will integrate the role of environmental factors with information on penguin foraging behavior, diet, growth, and survival at Cape Crozier and Cape Royds. Data will be used to evaluate how early-life conditions and penguin behavior relate to penguin energetics and population size. Results from this study will enhance the scientific understanding of important penguin and prey populations and provide information that will feed into the conservation of sea-ice ecosystems. The team will also lead a diverse training and public outreach program.
Field Season Overview
Six participants will deploy for a limited season to continue their long-term study of Adélie penguin demographics and population response to environmental change in the Ross Sea. Four team members will work out of the fixed hut at Cape Crozier, and two will work out of a tent camp at Cape Royds. The team will identify marked penguins at each location, collect breeding behavior data, and recover loggers that were deployed on penguins in previous seasons. They will also conduct UAS surveys at Cape Crozier, Cape Royds, and Cape Bird.
Deploying Team Members