Stable Isotope Analyses of Pygoscelid Penguin remains from Active and Abandoned Colonies in Antarctica
The research combines interdisciplinary study in geology, paleontology, and biology, using stable isotope and radiocarbon analyses, to examine how climate change and resource utilization have influenced population distribution, movement, and diet in penguins during the mid-to-late Holocene. Previous investigations have demonstrated that abandoned colonies contain well-preserved remains that can be used to examine differential responses of penguins to climate change in various sectors of Antarctica. As such, the research team will investigate abandoned and active pygoscelid penguin (Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo) colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula and Ross Sea regions, and possibly Prydz Bay, in collaboration with Chinese scientists during four field seasons. Stable isotope analyses will be conducted on recovered penguin tissues and prey remains in guano to address hypotheses on penguin occupation history, population movement, and diet in relation to climate change since the late Pleistocene. The study will include one Ph.D., two Masters and 16 undergraduate students in advanced research over the project period. Students will be exposed to a variety of fields, the scientific method, and international scientific research. They will complete field and lab research for individual projects or Honor's theses for academic credit. The project also will include web-based outreach, lectures to middle school students, and the development of interactive exercises that highlight hypothesis-driven research and the ecology of Antarctica. Two undergraduate students in French and Spanish languages at UNCW will be hired to assist in translating the Web page postings for broader access to this information.
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