Project Information
COLLABORATIVE: Adelie Penguin Response to Climate Change at the Individual, Colony and Metapopulation Levels
While changes in populations typically are tracked to gauge the impact of climate or habitat change, the process involves the response of individuals as each copes with an altered environment. In a study of Adelie penguins that spans 13 breeding seasons, results indicate that only 20% of individuals within a colony successfully raise offspring, and that they do so because of their exemplary foraging proficiency. Moreover, foraging appears to require more effort at the largest colony, where intraspecific competition is higher than at small colonies, and also requires more proficiency during periods of environmental stress. When conditions are particularly daunting, emigration dramatically increases, countering the long-standing assumption that Adélie penguins are highly philopatric. The research project will 1) determine the effect of age, experience and physiology on individual foraging efficiency; 2) determine the effect of age, experience, and individual quality on breeding success and survival in varying environmental and competitive conditions at the colony level; and 3) develop a comprehensive model for the Ross-Beaufort Island metapopulation dynamics. Broader impacts include training of interns, continuation of public outreach through the highly successful project website, development of classroom materials and other standards-based instructional resources.
Person Role
Ainley, David Investigator
Dugger, Katie Investigator
Ballard, Grant Investigator
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 0944411
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 0944358
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 0944141
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
Not provided
  1. Grémillet, D., Lescroël, A., Ballard, G., Dugger, K. M., Massaro, M., Porzig, E. L., & Ainley, D. G. (2018). Energetic fitness: Field metabolic rates assessed via 3D accelerometry complement conventional fitness metrics. Functional Ecology, 32(5), 1203–1213. (doi:10.1111/1365-2435.13074)
  2. Abrams, P. A., Ainley, D. G., Blight, L. K., Dayton, P. K., Eastman, J. T., & Jacquet, J. L. (2016). Necessary elements of precautionary management: implications for the Antarctic toothfish. Fish and Fisheries, 17(4), 1152–1174. (doi:10.1111/faf.12162)
  3. Le Bot, T., Lescroël, A., & Grémillet, D. (2018). A toolkit to study seabird–fishery interactions. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 75(5), 1513–1525. (doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsy038)
  4. Kappes, P. J., Dugger, K. M., Lescroël, A., Ainley, D. G., Ballard, G., Barton, K. J., … Wilson, P. R. (2021). Age‐related reproductive performance of the Adélie penguin, a long‐lived seabird exhibiting similar outcomes regardless of individual life‐history strategy. Journal of Animal Ecology. (doi:10.1111/1365-2656.13422)
  5. Jacquet, J., Blood-Patterson, E., Brooks, C., & Ainley, D. (2016). “Rational use” in Antarctic waters. Marine Policy, 63, 28–34. (doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2015.09.031)
  6. Fahsbender, E., Burns, J. M., Kim, S., Kraberger, S., Frankfurter, G., Eilers, A. A., … Varsani, A. (2017). Diverse and highly recombinant anelloviruses associated with Weddell seals in Antarctica. Virus Evolution, 3(1). (doi:10.1093/ve/vex017)
  7. Van Doorslaer, K., Ruoppolo, V., Schmidt, A., Lescroël, A., Jongsomjit, D., Elrod, M., … Varsani, A. (2017). Unique genome organization of non-mammalian papillomaviruses provides insights into the evolution of viral early proteins. Virus Evolution, 3(2). (doi:10.1093/ve/vex027)
  8. Wilson, D. J., Lyver, P. O., Greene, T. C., Whitehead, A. L., Dugger, K. M., Karl, B. J., … Ainley, D. G. (2016). South Polar Skua breeding populations in the Ross Sea assessed from demonstrated relationship with Adélie Penguin numbers. Polar Biology, 40(3), 577–592. (doi:10.1007/s00300-016-1980-4)
  9. De la Higuera, I., Kasun, G. W., Torrance, E. L., Pratt, A. A., Maluenda, A., Colombet, J., … Stedman, K. M. (2020). Unveiling Crucivirus Diversity by Mining Metagenomic Data. mBio, 11(5). (doi:10.1128/mbio.01410-20)
  10. Ainley, D. G., Eastman, J. T., & Brooks, C. M. (2016). Comments on “The Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni): biology, ecology, and life history in the Ross Sea region,” by S. Hanchet et al. Hydrobiologia, 771(1), 1–7. (doi:10.1007/s10750-015-2607-4)
  11. Schmidt, AE, G Ballard, A Lescroël, KM Dugger, D Jongsomjit, ML Elrod, and DG Ainley. 2021. The influence of subcolony-scale nesting habitat on reproductive success of Adélie penguins. Scientific Reports 11:15380 (doi:10.1038/s41598-021-94861-7)
  12. Lescroël, A., Ballard, G., Massaro, M., Dugger, K., Jennings, S., Pollard, A., … Ainley, D. (2019). Evidence of age-related improvement in the foraging efficiency of Adélie penguins. Scientific Reports, 9(1). (doi:10.1038/s41598-019-39814-x)
  13. Ford, R. G., Ainley, D. G., Lescroël, A., Lyver, P. O., Toniolo, V., & Ballard, G. (2014). Testing assumptions of central place foraging theory: a study of Adélie penguins Pygoscelis adeliae in the Ross Sea. Journal of Avian Biology, 46(2), 193–205. (doi:10.1111/jav.00491)
  14. Ramos, B., González-Acuña, D., Loyola, D. E., Johnson, W. E., Parker, P. G., Massaro, M., … Vianna, J. A. (2018). Landscape genomics: natural selection drives the evolution of mitogenome in penguins. BMC Genomics, 19(1). (doi:10.1186/s12864-017-4424-9)
  15. Morandini, V., Dugger, K. M., Ballard, G., Elrod, M., Schmidt, A., Ruoppolo, V., … Varsani, A. (2019). Identification of a Novel Adélie Penguin Circovirus at Cape Crozier (Ross Island, Antarctica). Viruses, 11(12), 1088. (doi:10.3390/v11121088)
  16. Ainley, D. G., Crockett, E. L., Eastman, J. T., Fraser, W. R., Nur, N., O’Brien, K., … Siniff, D. B. (2017). How overfishing a large piscine mesopredator explains growth in Ross Sea penguin populations: A framework to better understand impacts of a controversial fishery. Ecological Modelling, 349, 69–75. (doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2016.12.021)
  17. Salas, L., Nur, N., Ainley, D., Burns, J., Rotella, J., & Ballard, G. (2017). Coping with the loss of large, energy‐dense prey: a potential bottleneck for Weddell Seals in the Ross Sea. Ecological Applications, 27(1), 10–25. (doi:10.1002/eap.1435)
  18. Ainley, D. G., Larue, M. A., Stirling, I., Stammerjohn, S., & Siniff, D. B. (2015). An apparent population decrease, or change in distribution, of Weddell seals along the Victoria Land coast. Marine Mammal Science, 31(4), 1338–1361. (doi:10.1111/mms.12220)
  19. Ainley, D. G., Lindke, K., Ballard, G., Lyver, P. O., Jennings, S., Toniolo, V., … Santora, J. A. (2017). Spatio-temporal occurrence patterns of cetaceans near Ross Island, Antarctica, 2002–2015: implications for food web dynamics. Polar Biology, 40(9), 1761–1775. (doi:10.1007/s00300-017-2100-9)
  20. Morandini, V., Dugger, K. M., Schmidt, A. E., Varsani, A., Lescroël, A., Ballard, G., Lyver, P. O., Barton, K., & Ainley, D. G. (2024). Sex‐specific recruitment rates contribute to male‐biased sex ratio in Adélie penguins. Ecology and Evolution, 14(2). Portico. (doi:10.1002/ece3.10859)
Platforms and Instruments

This project has been viewed 50 times since May 2019 (based on unique date-IP combinations)