Abundance estimation of Adélie penguins at the Esperanza/Hope Bay mega colony
The Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) breeding population at Esperanza/Hope Bay, at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, is one of the largest Adélie penguin colonies in Antarctica. Nevertheless, the last known published field count during the egg-laying period is from 1985/1986. We counted breeding pairs within the entire colony, consisting of 274 breeding groups, during the 2012/2013 breeding season for comparison with previously published ground and satellite-derived counts. We also counted breeding pairs in 26 breeding groups that have been monitored annually since 1995/1996. We estimated the current population size to be 104,139 (95th-percentile CI 70,126–138,151) breeding pairs for the whole colony. The counts indicate population declines of 15.9% over 27 years in the whole colony and 37.5% over 18 years in the annually monitored subset of breeding groups, respectively. The observed decrease matches recent trends reported in other Adélie penguin colonies throughout the western Antarctic Peninsula and southern Scotia Sea. This population assessment contributes to the current estimates of the total predator populations in the region, which is necessary information for the management of marine living resources.
KeywordsPygoscelis adeliae Breeding population size Population decline Antarctic Peninsula
We want to thank all field assistants, in particular Chuchu Crivero and Gaby Blanco. The permit for this work was granted by the Dirección Nacional del Antártico (Environmental Office). The FONCYT—Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (Grant: PICTO 2010-0111) and the Instituto Antártico Argentino (Grant No. PI-05)—Dirección Nacional del Antártico provided financial and logistical support. We are very grateful to Ana Gentile who improved the English. We also thank Dr Lynch, Dr Trathan, an anonymous reviewer and editors for their helpful comments and suggestions on improving the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Baylis AMM, Crofts S, Wolfaardt AC (2013) Population trends of gentoo penguins Pygoscelis papua breeding at the Falkland Islands. Mar Ornithol 41:1–5Google Scholar
- Borowicz A, McDowall P, Youngflesh C, Sayre-McCord T, Clucas G, Herman R, Forrest S, Rider M, Schwaller M, Hart T, Jenouvrier S, Polito M, Singh H, Lynch HJ (2018) Multi-modal survey of Adélie penguin mega-colonies reveals the Danger Islands as a seabird hotspot. Sci Rep 8:3926CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Caswell H (1989) Matrix population models construction, analysis, and interpretation. Sinauer Associates Inc, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
- CCAMLR (2004) CCAMLR ecosystem monitoring program. Standard methods. Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, North HobartGoogle Scholar
- CCAMLR (2015) Krill Fishery Report. CCAMLR, Hobart. https://www.ccamlr.org/en/document/publications/krill-fishery-report-2015. Accessed 16 Sept 2016
- Coria NR, Spairani H, Vivequin S, Fontana R (1995) Diet of Adélie penguins Pygoscelis adeliae during the post-hatching period at Esperanza Bay, Antarctica, 1987/88. Polar Biol 15:415–418Google Scholar
- Emslie S, Karnovsky N, Trivelpiece W (1985) Avian predation at penguin colonies on King George Island, Antarctica. Wilson Bull 107:317–327Google Scholar
- Hewitt RP, Watters G, Trathan PN, Croxall JP, Goebel ME, Ramm D, Reid K, Trivelpiece WZ, Watkins JL (2004) Options for allocating the precautionary catch limit of krill among small-scale management units in the Scotia Sea. CCAMLR Sci 11:81–97Google Scholar
- Humphries GRW, Che-Castaldo C, Naveen R, Schwaller M, McDowall P, Schrimpf M, Lynch HJ (2017) Mapping application for penguin populations and projected dynamics. www.penguinmap.com. Accessed 26 Jun 2017
- Myrcha A, Tatur A, Del Valle R (1987) Numbers of Adélie penguins breeding at Hope Bay and Seymour Island rookeries (West Antarctica) in 1985. Pol Polar Res 8:411–422Google Scholar
- Trivelpiece W, Volkman NJ (1979) Nest-site competition between Adélie and chinstrap penguins: an ecological interpretation. Auk 96:675–681Google Scholar