Project Information
Occupation History and Diet of Adelie Penguins in the Ross Sea Region
Steve Emslie

Occupation History and Diet of Adelie Penguins in the Ross Sea Region

This project will build on previous studies to investigate the occupation history and diet of Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) in the Ross Sea region, Antarctica, with excavations of abandoned and active penguin colonies. Numerous active and abandoned colonies exist on the Victoria Land coast, from Cape Adare to Marble Point will be sampled. Some of these sites have been radiocarbon-dated and indicate a long occupation history for Adelie penguins extending to 13,000 years before present (B. P.). The material recovered from excavations, as demonstrated from previous investigations, will include penguin bones, tissue, and eggshell fragments as well as abundant remains of prey (fish bones, otoliths, squid beaks) preserved in ornithogenic (formed from bird guano) soils. These organic remains will be quantified and subjected to radiocarbon analyses to obtain a colonization history of penguins in this region. Identification of prey remains in the sediments will allow assessment of penguin diet. Other data (ancient DNA) from these sites will be analyzed through collaboration with New Zealand scientists. Past climatic conditions will be interpreted from published ice-core and marine-sediment records. These data will be used to test the hypothesis that Adelie penguins respond to climate change, past and present, in a predictable manner. In addition, the hypothesis that Adelie penguins alter their diet in accordance with climate, sea-ice conditions, and other marine environmental variables along a latitudinal gradient will be tested. Graduate and undergraduate students will be involved in this project and a project Web site will be developed to report results and maintain educational interaction between the PI and students at local middle and high schools in Wilmington, NC.
Person Role
Emslie, Steven Investigator
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 0125098
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
1 (processed data)
Repository Title (link) Format(s) Status
USAP-DC Occupation History and Diet of Adelie Penguins in the Ross Sea Region None exist
  1. McMahon, K. W., Polito, M. J., Abel, S., McCarthy, M. D., & Thorrold, S. R. (2015). Carbon and nitrogen isotope fractionation of amino acids in an avian marine predator, the gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua). Ecology and Evolution, 5(6), 1278–1290. (doi:10.1002/ece3.1437)
Platforms and Instruments

This project has been viewed 22 times since May 2019 (based on unique date-IP combinations)