Katie Dugger, Peter Kappes, Virginia Morandini
Latin name: Pygoscelis adeliae
This large, long-term, multi-national, multi-institution collaborative study funded by the National Science Foundation recently concluded the 22nd field season designed to understand the metapopulation dynamics of Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea. We now have demographic information on >35,000 uniquely marked, known-age, individuals at 3 colonies that are very disparate in size (4000 vs. 70,000, vs. >300,000 breeding pairs). Thus, we have a longitudinal data set for marked individuals in this metapopulation, which represents what we believe is almost a complete maximum lifespan of this species in the wild (~25 years). This long-term demographic data set is allowing us to estimate and model penguin vital rates (survival, reproductive success, age-at-1st breeding, movement rates, etc.) in association with age, colony, breeding status, and environmental factors. Our ultimate goal is to understand why adjacent colonies differ so greatly in size and how those size discrepancies are maintained over time. This information is of increasing importance in the face of projected climate change in this region.
Learn more about this project: www.penguinscience.com