Polar Biology

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 493–503 | Cite as

Population trends and reproductive success at a frequently visited penguin colony on the western Antarctic Peninsula

  • Heather J. Lynch
  • William F. Fagan
  • Ron Naveen
Original Paper


Petermann Island (65°10′S, 64°10′W), one of the Antarctic Peninsula’s most frequently visited locations, is at the epicenter of a rapid shift in which an Adélie penguin dominated fauna is becoming gentoo penguin dominated. Over the course of five seasons, the breeding productivity of Adélie and gentoo penguins breeding at Petermann Island were monitored to identify drivers of this rapid community change. The impact of tourist visitation on breeding success was also investigated. Consistent with larger trends in this region, the Adélie penguin population decreased by 29% and the gentoo penguin population increased by 27% between the 2003/2004 and 2007/2008 seasons. Reproductive success among Adélie penguins ranged from 1.09 to 1.32 crèched chicks/nest, which was higher than or comparable to other sites and is an unlikely explanation for the precipitous decline of Adélie penguins at Petermann Island. Whereas gentoo penguin reproductive success was lowest in colonies frequently visited by tourists, Adélie penguin colonies frequently visited by tourists had higher reproductive success than those visited only occasionally. These results are placed in the context of other studies on reproductive success and the impact of tourist visitation on breeding colonies of Adélie and gentoo penguins.


Adélie penguin Gentoo penguin Long-term monitoring Breeding success Tourism 



This paper is a contribution of the Antarctic Site Inventory. We thank the following researchers who actively collected Antarctic Site Inventory census data at Petermann Island between the 2003/2004 and 2007/2008 field seasons: Stacey Buckelew, Ian Bullock, Rosemary Dagit, Steven Forrest, Toby Kaufman, Aileen Miller, Thomas Mueller, Michael Polito, and Melissa Rider. We thank Steve Forrest, Evan H. C. Grant, and Thomas Mueller for their review of the manuscript. We also thank the many support staff and scientists from the Akademik Vernadsky Station who provided data and assistance during this project. The authors gratefully acknowledge assistance from the US National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs (Award Nos. NSF/OPP-0230069 and NSF/OPP-0739515).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather J. Lynch
    • 1
    • 2
  • William F. Fagan
    • 1
  • Ron Naveen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Oceanites Inc.Chevy ChaseUSA

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