Polar Biology

, Volume 32, Issue 7, pp 1077–1086 | Cite as

Holocene Adélie penguin diet in Victoria Land, Antarctica

  • Sandra LorenziniEmail author
  • Silvia Olmastroni
  • Francesco Pezzo
  • Maria Cristina Salvatore
  • Carlo Baroni
Original Paper


Ornithogenic soils (N = 97) dated up to 7000 Before Present (bp) were sampled in 16 relict and modern breeding colonies of Adélie penguin along the Victoria Land coast (Ross Sea, Antarctica). Taxonomic identification of fish otoliths (N = 677) recovered in these soils allowed to identify the Antarctic silverfish as the most eaten prey (90.1%) throughout the investigated period. A morphometric analysis of the otoliths revealed that the Adélie penguin primarily selected prey averaging 67.23 ± 23 mm of standard length. Temporal distribution of Pleuragramma antarcticum showed a peak between 2,000 and 4,000 years bp, a period corresponding to the maximum spread of Adélie penguin in the Victoria Land. Possible explanations of the variations of the abundance of the fish prey in the diet are discussed in the context of the paleoclimatic events and as possible consequences of dietary shifts due to the temporal variation of prey availability in the Ross Sea ecosystem.


Adélie penguin Ornithogenic soils Prey remains Paleodiet Victoria Land 



This work was executed within the framework of the Italian National Program on Antarctic Research (PNRA) and was financially supported by joint research programs in geology at the University of Pisa. The authors thank Fabrizio Ciampolini (University of Siena) for scanning electron micrographs, Silvano Focardi head of the laboratories at the Department of Environmental Science (University of Siena) where the morphometric analyses were performed. David Lambert, Grant Ballard and one anonymous referee greatly improved an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Lorenzini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Silvia Olmastroni
    • 2
  • Francesco Pezzo
    • 2
  • Maria Cristina Salvatore
    • 3
  • Carlo Baroni
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità di PisaPisaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali “G. Sarfatti”Università degli Studi di SienaSienaItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità di Roma “La Sapienza”RomeItaly

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