Project Information
Population Growth at the Southern Extreme: Effects of Early Life Conditions on Adelie penguin Individuals and Colonies
Short Title:
Effects of early life conditions on Adelie Penguins
Start Date:
End Date:
Project Website(s)
Polar regions are experiencing some of the most dramatic effects of climate change resulting in large-scale changes in sea ice cover. Despite this, there are relatively few long-term studies on polar species that evaluate the full scope of these effects. Over the last two decades, this team has conducted globally unique demographic studies of Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, to explore several potential mechanisms for population change. This five-year project will use penguin-borne sensors to evaluate foraging conditions and behavior and environmental conditions on early life stages of Adélie penguins. Results will help to better understand population dynamics and how populations might respond to future environmental change. To promote STEM literacy, education and public outreach efforts will include multiple activities. The PenguinCam and website (impacts of >1 million hits per month and use by >300 classrooms/~10,000 students) will be continued. Each field season will also have ‘Live From the Penguins’ Skype calls to classes (~120/season). Classroom-ready activities that are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards will be developed with media products and science journal papers translated to grade 5-8 literacy level. The project will also train early career scientists, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students and post-graduate interns. Finally, in partnership with an Environmental Leadership Program, the team will host 2-year Roger Arliner Young Conservation Fellow, which is a program designed to increase opportunities for recent college graduates of color to learn about, engage with, and enter the environmental conservation sector.
Person Role
Ballard, Grant Investigator and contact
Schmidt, Annie Co-Investigator
Varsani, Arvind Co-Investigator
Dugger, Katie Co-Investigator
Orben, Rachael Co-Investigator
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 1935901
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 1935870
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
1 (processed data)
  1. Morandini, V., K.M. Dugger, A. Lescroel, A. Schmidt and G. Ballard. 2021. Maintenance of nest quality in Adélie penguins: an additional benefit to life in the center. Polar Biology (doi:10.1007/s00300-021-02894-5)
  2. 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)
  3. Fischhoff, I. R., Castellanos, A. A., Rodrigues, J. P. G. L. M., Varsani, A., & Han, B. A. (2021). Predicting the zoonotic capacity of mammals to transmit SARS-CoV-2. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1963). (doi:10.1098/rspb.2021.1651)
  4. Lescroël, A., Schmidt, A., Elrod, M., Ainley, D. G., & Ballard, G. (2021). Foraging dive frequency predicts body mass gain in the Adélie penguin. Scientific Reports, 11(1). (doi:10.1038/s41598-021-02451-4)
  5. Jennings, S, KM Dugger, G Ballard, and DG Ainley. 2021. Effects of diet and provisioning behavior on chick growth on Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). Waterbirds 44:55-67 (doi:10.1675/063.044.0105)
  6. Smith, W.O. Jr., D.G. Ainley, K.J. Heywood, and G. Ballard. 2021. New technologies aid understanding of the factors affecting Adélie penguin foraging. Pp. 26–27 in Frontiers in Ocean Observing: Documenting Ecosystems, Understanding Environmental Changes, Forecasting Hazards. E.S. Kappel, S.K. Juniper, S. Seeyave, E. Smith, and M. Visbeck, eds, A Supplement to Oceanography 34(4) (doi:10.5670/oceanog.2021.supplement.02-10.)
  7. Jennings, S., Dugger, K. M., Ballard, G., & Ainley, D. G. (2023). Faster growth and larger size at crèche onset are associated with higher offspring survival in Adélie Penguins. Ornithology. (doi:10.1093/ornithology/ukad006)
  8. Lescroël, A., Schmidt, A., Ainley, D. G., Dugger, K. M., Elrod, M., Jongsomjit, D., Morandini, V., Winquist, S., & Ballard, G. (2023). High-resolution recording of foraging behaviour over multiple annual cycles shows decline in old Adélie penguins’ performance. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 290(1996). (doi:10.1098/rspb.2022.2480)
  9. Jongsomjit, D., Lescroël, A., Schmidt, A. E., Lisovski, S., Ainley, D. G., Hines, E., Elrod, M., Dugger, K. M., & Ballard, G. (2024). Going with the floe: <scp>S</scp>ea‐ice movement affects distance and destination during <scp>A</scp>délie penguin winter movements. Ecology. Portico. (doi:10.1002/ecy.4196)
  10. 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)
  11. Cox, A. M., Khor, D. J., Elrod, M. L., Lescroël, A., Ballard, G., & Schmidt, A. E. (2024). I need some space: solitary nesting Adélie penguins demonstrate an alternative breeding strategy at Cape Crozier. Polar Biology. (doi:10.1007/s00300-024-03246-9)
Platforms and Instruments

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