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Overview

Brief Summary

The Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae), a close relative of the Chinstrap Penguin (P. antarctica), nests on ice-free rocky coasts around Antarctica. It tends to occupy higher ground than does the less colonial Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua). Adélie Penguin colonies are typicaly large and are thus often located in extensive open areas, sometimes far from the open sea. Adélie Penguins feed mainly on krill (Euphausia superba, E. crystallorophias), along with smaller quantities of fish, amphipod crustaceans, and cephalopods (squid and relatives). Although these penguins generally hunt at depths less than 20 m, they have been recorded as deep as 175 m. Adélies typically arrive at their breeding colony in September or October and most eggs are laid in November. Colonies may be enormous, with densely packed nests, and may include Gentoos and Chinstraps, but the Adélies tend to cluster together in the colony. Two eggs are deposited in the simple nest (a small depression lined with pebbles). Eggs are incubated by both sexes for 30 to 43 days, broken into stints of 7-23 days. The young gather together in creches starting around 16 to 19 days and fledge at 50 to 56 days. They are sexually mature by 8 years (rarely at 5 and exceptionally at 3). After breeding, birds move north toward rich feeding grounds. Adults do not molt at the colony, but rather on ice floes. (Martínez 1992) Dunn et al. (2011) used ARGOS satellite telemetry and Global Location Sensors (geolocators) to identify the molt locations and winter foraging dispersal of Adélie penguins after they left their breeding colonies on Signy Island in the South Orkney Islands. They found that the birds remained away from colonies (at distances up to 2235 km) for around 9 months (Ballard et al. [2010] report that Ross Island Adélies make the longest migration known for this species, traveling as far as 17,600 km round trip between autumn and spring). Dunn et al. found that molt took place within the pack ice during February and March within a narrow latitudinal range (65 to 71 degrees S), at a mean distance of 126 km from the ice edge; the mean duration of individual molt was around 18.6 days. After molting, the birds spent the subsequent winter months moving north or northeastward within the expanding winter pack ice, at a mean distance of 216 km from the ice edge, and in areas with ice cover > 80%. Dunn et al. note that the dependence of Adélie Penguins on sea ice habitat suggests that any further reductions in sea ice extent in the Weddell Sea region would potentially have important impacts on Adélie Penguin population dynamics. Ballard et al. (2010) studied changes in annual migration patterns of Adélie Penguins through time. They suggest that although these penguins have had to modify their life history characteristics and movements through the millenia as ice ages have come and gone (with coincident changes in breeding and sea ice habitat), the current rate of habitat change may be unprecedented for this species.

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Distribution

Range Description

Pygoscelis adeliae is found along the entire Antarctic coast and some of its nearby islands. Individuals are dispersive, moving towards areas of persistent sea ice to moult after breeding (Ainley et al. 2010). Numbers are increasing in the Ross Sea region and decreasing in the Peninsula region, with the net global population increasing overall (Ainley et al. 2010). However, analyses based on the modelling of climate effects suggest that the population could start to decline in a few decades (Ainley et al. 2010, D. Ainley in litt. 2012). Although these declines may only start after a warming of 2°C above pre-industrial levels is reached, and overall trends will potentially be positive before this point (D. Ainley in litt. 2012), BirdLife International has precautionarily projected a population decline approaching 30% over the next three generations, factoring in the potential for negative impacts to take place within this timescale, as well as substantial uncertainties over climate predictions and the adaptability of the species.

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Range

Circumpolar Antarctic seas to edge of ice pack.

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Geographic Range

Pygoscelis adeliae is found only in the Antarctic region. Adelie penguins breed on the coasts of Antarctica and on surrounding islands. The area with the most abundant population of Adelie penguins is in the Ross Sea.

Biogeographic Regions: antarctica (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Adelie penguins are one of the smaller species of penguins, just above 60.96 cm tall. Their back, tail, head, and face are black. They have a white belly and a white ring around their brown eyes. Their feathers cover half of their bill, which is black with an orange base. They have dull white to pink legs and feet with black soles.

Range mass: 3.62 to 4.99 kg.

Average length: 69.85 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

  • Glausiusz, J. 2007. The Beacon Bird of Climate Change. Discover, 28.4: 14.
  • Grossman, D. 2003. On thin ice: Adelie penguins are proving to be Antarctica's most sensitive indicators of climate shifts. Their falling population portends a multitude of changes that will reverberate throughout the region. Audubon, 105.4: 78-83.
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Type Information

Cotype for Pygoscelis adeliae
Catalog Number: USNM A15668
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: unknown; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): T. Peale
Locality: Ice Regions, S of Lat 60 ~ S, Antarctica, Antarctic
  • Cotype: Peale. 1848. U.S. Exploring Expedition. 8 (mamm. and orn.): 261, pl. lxx, fig. 2.
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Cotype for Pygoscelis adeliae
Catalog Number: USNM A15667
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: unknown; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): T. Peale
Locality: Ice Regions, S of Lat 60 ~ S, Antarctica, Antarctic
  • Cotype: Peale. 1848. U.S. Exploring Expedition. 8 (mamm. and orn.): 261, pl. lxx, fig. 2.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species nests on ice-free rocky coasts, often in extensive open areas to accommodate typically large colonies which may be far from the open sea. Females lay two eggs, which are incubated by both sexes in alternating stints. It mainly feeds on krill, with smaller quantities of fish, amphipods and cephalopods. It captures such prey by pursuit diving, usually less than 20 m down (del Hoyo et al. 1992).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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Living in the Antarctic region, Adelie penguins must withstand very cold temperatures. During the winter months they inhabit large coastal ice platforms, so they will have better access to food. Krill, the primary staple in their diet, feed on plankton that live underneath sea ice, so there is an abundance of krill in those areas. During the breeding season, typically in the early spring and summer months, they travel to coastal beaches to build their nests on ice-free ground. With access to open water, this locale provides the penguins with almost immediate access to food for themselves and their young.

Average depth: 200 m.

Habitat Regions: polar ; terrestrial ; saltwater or marine

Terrestrial Biomes: icecap

Aquatic Biomes: coastal

  • Alten, M. 1997. Penguin Parenting: Adelie penguins reunite for their annual breeding rituals. Animals, 130: 20-23.
  • George, A. 2002. Go with the floe: Adelie penguins can't survive without ice. But you can have too much of a good thing. New Scientist, Dec 21, 2002: 36-40.
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Depth range based on 84416 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 36858 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): -1.750 - 0.264
  Nitrate (umol/L): 15.064 - 30.497
  Salinity (PPS): 33.536 - 34.442
  Oxygen (ml/l): 7.207 - 8.233
  Phosphate (umol/l): 1.234 - 2.127
  Silicate (umol/l): 21.227 - 89.471

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): -1.750 - 0.264

Nitrate (umol/L): 15.064 - 30.497

Salinity (PPS): 33.536 - 34.442

Oxygen (ml/l): 7.207 - 8.233

Phosphate (umol/l): 1.234 - 2.127

Silicate (umol/l): 21.227 - 89.471
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The primary food source for Adelie penguins is krill (Euphausia superba). They also consume fish, such as lantern fish and other members of the family Myctophidae and Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum). Squid, other cephalopods, and amphipods are part of their normal diet as well. Adelie penguins store food and regurgitate it later to feed their newly hatched young.

Animal Foods: fish; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans; other marine invertebrates

Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Molluscivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Adelie penguins impact krill (Euphausia superba), Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum), and cephalopod populations, the main species in their diet. These penguins are impacted by leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx), killer whales (Orcinus orca), south polar skuas (Stercorarius maccormicki), and sheathbills (Chionis albus).

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Predation

Typical predators of Pygoscelie adeliae are leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx), killer whales (Orcinus orca), and south polar skuas (Stercorarius maccormicki). Leopard seals are the most common predators of Adelie penguins, usually near the edge of the ice pack. Leopard seals are never an issue for penguins on shore, because leopard seals only come ashore to sleep or rest. Adelie penguins have learned to evade these predators by swimming in groups, avoiding thin ice, and spending little time in the water within 200 m of the beach. Killer whales generally prey on larger penguin species, but may occasionally take Adelies. South polar skuas prey on eggs and chicks left unguarded by adults or at the edges of creches. act more as scavengers than predators. Sheathbills (Chionis albus) also sometimes taken unguarded eggs.

Known Predators:

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Breeding Category

Breeding
  • Woehler E.J. (compiler) 2006. Species list prepared for SCAR/IUCN/BirdLife International Workshop on Antarctic Regional Seabird Populations, March 2005, Cambridge, UK.
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Communication and Perception

Adelie penguins are very social and communication with neighbors and mates is important. The most common mode of communication with neighbors are displays and posturing. Mates also communicate using displays, but these are most often more ecstatic and one that only each mate would recognize. Mated Adelie penguins also use calls to identify each other and their offspring. Males and females actively defend their nest site and will often fight with their neighbors. Adelie penguins can signal apprehension by raising their head feathers and they can signal threat by a sideways stare with their crest raised and their eyes rolled downward.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Survivorship among Adelie penguins is lower in individuals who begin to breed at younger ages, between 3 and 5 years. However, individuals that do attempt to breed at an earlier age tend to breed more successfully in later years than penguins that first breed at 5 to 6 years old. Adelie penguins have been known to live as long as 16 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
5 to 16 years.

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Reproduction

Male Adelie penguins attempt to attract mates with a "salute" in which they they stand about 4 m away from the female of interest and put on a display of beak thrusting, neck arching, and reaching his full height. This salute also serves to announce that male's territory in the colony. In early spring, Adelie penguins journey back to their breeding grounds. Males arrive first. Each pair recognizes each other's mating call and their nesting site from the previous year. These pairs may reunite for consecutive years unless one of the mates does not return to the nesting site. Males also exhibit defensive measures of beak pecking and open yelling to defend territories and mates.

Mating System: monogamous

Generally, Adelie penguins return to their same nesting site around springtime for mating. The lengthening of days in the spring stimulates penguins to begin their period of hyperphagia, or persistent feeding. They feed constantly to store fat that they need during the breeding and incubation periods. They build stone nests in preparation for their two eggs.  Adelie penguins most commonly produce two offspring per breeding season, with one egg laid shortly after the first. The eggs incubate for about 36 days. The parents alternate caring for the young for about 4 weeks post-hatching, when the young enter a creche with other juvenile Adelie penguins for protection. At this time, both parents return to the sea to feed.

Breeding interval: Breeding occurs once a year from early spring to summer.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs in the austral spring and summer.

Range eggs per season: 1 to 3.

Range time to hatching: 24 to 39 days.

Average time to hatching: 32 days.

Average fledging age: 28 days.

Average time to independence: 60 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 3 to 6 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 4 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 to 6 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization

Both parents invest heavily in their young. During incubation males and females take turns with the egg while the other is feeding. Once the chick is hatched, both adults take turns in feeding and searching for food. Newly hatched chicks are born with down feathers but are unable to feed themselves; they are semi-precocial. Four weeks after a chick has hatched it will join a creche of other juvenile Adelie penguins for protection. During its time in the creche the parents still feed their young. After 56 days in the creche most Adelie penguins become independent.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pygoscelis adeliae

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 21 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGATGATTATTCTCAACCAACCACAAAGATATCGGCACCCTCTACCTAATCTTTGGCGCATGAGCAGGCATAGCCGGAACCGCTCTC---AGCCTACTAATCCGCGCAGAACTTGGCCAACCCGGAACCCTCCTAGGGGAT---GACCAAATCTACAACGTAATCGTCACTGCCCACGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTAATACCCATCATGATTGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTTCCGCTCATA---ATCGGTGCCCCCGACATAGCATTTCCCCGTATAAATAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTACCCCCATCCTTCCTACTGCTACTAGCCTCATCCACAGTAGAAGCAGGGGCTGGTACAGGATGGACTGTATACCCACCACTCGCAGGTAACCTGGCCCATGCCGGCGCCTCAGTAGACCTA---GCCATCTTCTCCCTCCACCTAGCAGGAGTCTCCTCTATCCTAGGGGCAATCAACTTTATCACAACTGCCATCAACATGAAACCCCCAGTCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTTGTATGATCTGTCCTCATTACAGCCGTCCTCCTACTGCTCTCACTCCCTGTACTCGCTGCC---GGTATTACTATACTCCTGACCGACCGAAACCTAAACACTACCTTCTTCGACCCCGCTGGAGGAGGGGACCCAGTCCTATACCAACACCTCTTCTGATTCTTCGGCCACCCAGAAGTCTACATCCTAATCCTCCCAGGCTTCGGAATTATCTCCCACGTAGTAACATACTATGCAGGTAAAAAG---GAGCCATTCGGCTATATAGGAATAGTATGAGCCATACTATCCATCGGATTCCTTGGCTTTATCGTATGGGCCCACCACATATTCACAGTCGGAATAGACGTAGATACCCGAGCATACTTCACATCCGCCACCATAATCATTGCCATCCCAACTGGCATTAAAGTCTTTAGCTGACTA---GCAACACTACACGGAG
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pygoscelis adeliae

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 20
Specimens with Barcodes: 37
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Ainley, D., Kooyman, G. & Woehler, E.

Justification
This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened because it is expected to undergo a moderately rapid population decline over the next three generations owing to the effects of projected climate change. It should be noted, however, that there are considerable uncertainties over future climatic changes and how they will impact the species.
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According to the IUCN Red List, Pygoscelis adeliae is considered "low risk" and of "least concern."

US Migratory Bird Act: no special status

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
The total number of breeding pairs is estimated at c.2.37 million (range 1.83-2.88 million), based on survey data collated and published by Woehler (1993) and Woehler and Croxall (1997), equating to at least 4.74 million mature individuals.

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Major Threats
It is thought to be threatened by the effects of projected climate change, primarily through future decreases in sea ice concentration, as affected by wind speed and persistence, as well as associated changes in other climatic variables such as precipitation (Ainley et al. 2010). Reduced suitability of nesting habitat could result from an increase in the incidence of severe snowfall. In addition, annual migration and winter survival may be negatively affected by decreases in sea ice coverage at northern latitudes where the species requires a few hours of daylight in each 24-hour period (Ainley et al. 2010, Ballard et al. 2010). The location of research stations near colonies has led to reductions in suitable ground for breeding, excessive visits to colonies and disturbance caused by aircraft movements (del Hoyo et al. 1992), although the impact of disturbance in relation to environmental conditions appears to vary with location (Bricher et al. 2008). Oil-pollution and fishing (for krill and finfish) also pose threats (D. Ainley in litt. 2012).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
This is the most studied penguin species (del Hoyo et al. 1992), and is the subject of on-going research. Some colonies are located within protected areas. Human disturbance is strictly regulated.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain an improved and more up-to-date population estimate. Continue to monitor population trends. Continue to closely monitor trends in the extent and persistence of sea ice, and associated climatic variables. Carry out further research into the species's ecology to improve understanding of how environmental changes and human activities, such as fishing, will affect the population. Improve predictions of future environmental changes and how these will impact the species's population, and conduct research into the potential effects of fish and krill extraction (D. Ainley in litt. 2012). Continue international work to tackle the drivers of projected climate change.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Pygoscelie adeliae on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Adelie penguins are often good indicators of climate change. Adelie penguins are beginning to inhabit beaches that were previously perenially covered in ice, suggesting warming of Antarctic environments. Adelie penguin colonies are highlights for ecotourism in the Antarctic. From the eighteenth to the early twentieth century these penguins were used for food, oil, and bait. Their guano was mined and used as fertilizer. Now they are a protected species in most countries.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism ; research and education; produces fertilizer

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Risks

IUCN Red List Category

Least Concern
  • Woehler E.J. (compiler) 2006. Species list prepared for SCAR/IUCN/BirdLife International Workshop on Antarctic Regional Seabird Populations, March 2005, Cambridge, UK.
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Wikipedia

Adélie penguin

The Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is a species of penguin common along the entire Antarctic coast, which is their only residence. They are among the most southerly distributed of all seabirds, as are the emperor penguin, the South Polar skua, the Wilson's storm petrel, the snow petrel, and the Antarctic petrel. They are named after Adélie Land, in turned named for the wife of French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville who discovered these penguins in 1840.[2]

Taxonomy[edit]

The Adélie penguin is one of three species in the genus Pygoscelis. Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA evidence suggests the genus split from other penguins around 38 million years ago, about 2 million years after the ancestors of the genus Aptenodytes. In turn, the Adélie penguins split off from the other members of the genus around 19 million years ago.[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

There are estimated to be a total of 2.4-3.2 million breeding pairs of Adélie penguins; they are distributed around the coastline of the Antarctic continent, though few penguins appear to breed in the quarter of the continent eastwards of the Antarctic Peninsula, with only a few small colonies identified. During the breeding season, they congregate in large breeding colonies, some over a quarter of a million pairs.[4] Individual colonies can vary dramatically in size, and some may be particularly vulnerable to climate fluctuations.[5]

The Adélie penguins breed from October to February on shores around the Antarctic continent. Adélies build rough nests of stones. Two eggs are laid, these are incubated for 32 to 34 days by the parents taking turns (shifts typically last for 12 days). The chicks remain in the nest for 22 days before joining crèches. The chicks moult into their juvenile plumage and go out to sea after 50 to 60 days.

Description[edit]

These penguins are mid-sized, being 46 to 75 cm (18 to 30 in) in height and 3.6 to 6 kg (7.9 to 13.2 lb) in weight.[6][7] Distinctive marks are the white ring surrounding the eye and the feathers at the base of the bill. These long feathers hide most of the red bill. The tail is a little longer than other penguins' tails. The appearance looks somewhat like a tuxedo. They are a little smaller than other penguin species. Their appearance is closest to the stereotypical image of penguins as mostly black with a white belly.

Adélie penguins can swim up to 45 miles per hour (72 km/h).[citation needed]

Adélie penguins are preyed on by leopard seals, skua, and occasionally, orcas.

Behavior[edit]

Adélie penguins at Cape Adare

Specifics of their behaviour were documented extensively by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (a survivor of Robert Falcon Scott’s fateful final journey to the South Pole) in his book The Worst Journey in the World. Cherry-Garrard noted: "They are extraordinarily like children, these little people of the Antarctic world, either like children or like old men, full of their own importance."[8] Certain displays of their selfishness were commented upon by George Murray Levick, a Royal Navy surgeon-lieutenant and scientist who also accompanied Scott on his ill-fated British Antarctic Expedition of 1910, during his surveying of penguins in the Antarctic: "At the place where they most often went in [the water], a long terrace of ice about six feet in height ran for some hundreds of yards along the edge of the water, and here, just as on the sea-ice, crowds would stand near the brink. When they had succeeded in pushing one of their number over, all would crane their necks over the edge, and when they saw the pioneer safe in the water, the rest followed."[9]

It was observed how the penguin's intrigue could also put them in harm’s way, which Scott found a particular nuisance:

The great trouble with [the dog teams] has been due to the fatuous conduct of the penguins. Groups of these have been constantly leaping onto our [ice] floe. From the moment of landing on their feet their whole attitude expressed devouring curiosity and a pig-headed disregard for their own safety. They waddle forward, poking their heads to and fro in their usually absurd way, in spite of a string of howling dogs straining to get at them. "Hulloa!" they seem to say, "here’s a game – what do all you ridiculous things want?" And they come a few steps nearer. The dogs make a rush as far as their harness or leashes allow. The penguins are not daunted in the least, but their ruffs go up and they squawk with semblance of anger.[10]

Adélie penguin chicks in Antarctica, with MS Explorer and an iceberg in the background

Regularly this attitude led to the demise of an Adélie penguin, "Then the final fatal steps forward are taken and they come within reach. There is a spring, a squawk, a horrid red patch on the snow, and the incident is closed."[10] Others on the mission to the South Pole were more receptive of this element of the Adélies' intrigue. Cherry-Garrard:

Meares and Dimitri exercised the dog-teams out upon the larger floes when we were held up for any length of time. One day a team was tethered by the side of the ship, and a penguin sighted them and hurried from afar off. The dogs became frantic with excitement as he neared them: he supposed it was a greeting, and the louder they barked and the more they strained at their ropes, the faster he bustled to meet them. He was extremely angry with a man who went and saved him from a very sudden end, clinging to his trousers with his beak, and furiously beating his shins with his flippers.[11]

This was an occurrence of some regularity, "It was not an uncommon sight to see a little Adélie penguin standing within a few inches of the nose of a dog which was almost frantic with desire and passion."[11]

Due to their obstinate personality traits Cherry-Garrard held the birds in great regard, "Whatever [an Adélie] penguin does has individuality, and he lays bare his whole life for all to see. He cannot fly away. And because he is quaint in all that he does, but still more because he is fighting against bigger odds than any other bird, and fighting always with the most gallant pluck."[12]

Diet[edit]

The Adélie penguin is known to feed mainly on Antarctic krill, ice krill, Antarctic silverfish, sea krill and glacial squid (diet varies depending on geographic location) during the chick-rearing season. The stable isotope record of fossil eggshell accumulated in colonies over the last 38,000 years reveals a sudden change from a fish-based diet to krill that started two hundred years ago. This is most likely due to the decline of the Antarctic fur seal since the late 18th century and baleen whales in the 20th century. The reduction of competition from these predators has resulted in a surplus of krill, which the penguins now exploit as an easier source of food.[13]

Reproduction[edit]

An Adélie penguin egg from MHNT
Mating Adélie penguins in Antarctica

Adélie penguins arrive at their breeding grounds in October or November, at the end of winter and the start of spring. Their nests consist of stones piled together. In December, the warmest month in Antarctica (about −2 °C or 28 °F), the parents take turns incubating the egg; one goes to feed and the other stays to warm the egg. The parent who is incubating does not eat. In March, the adults and their young return to the sea. The Adélie penguin lives on sea ice but needs the ice-free land to breed. With a reduction in sea ice, populations of the Adélie penguin have dropped by 65% over the past 25 years.[14]

Young Adélie penguins who have no experience in social interaction may react to false cues when the penguins gather to breed. They may, for instance, attempt to mate with other males, with young chicks or with dead females. On account of the birds' relatively human-like appearance and behavior, human observers have interpreted this behavior anthropomorphically as sexual deviance. The first to record such behavior was Dr Levick, in 1911 and 1912, but his notes were deemed too indecent for publication at the time; they were rediscovered and published in 2012.[15][n 1] "The pamphlet, declined for publication with the official Scott expedition reports, commented on the frequency of sexual activity, auto-erotic behaviour, and seemingly aberrant behaviour of young unpaired males and females, including necrophilia, sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks and homosexual behaviour," states the analysis written by Douglas Russell and colleagues William Sladen and David Ainley. "His observations were, however, accurate, valid and, with the benefit of hindsight, deserving of publication."[16][17] Levick observed the Adélie penguins at Cape Adare, the site of the largest Adélie penguin rookery in the world.[18] As of June 2012, he has been the only one to study this particular colony and he observed it for an entire breeding cycle.[17] The discovery significantly illuminates the behaviour of the species that some researchers[19] believe to be an indicator of climate change.[17]

Migration[edit]

Adélie penguins are identified and weighed each time they cross the automated weighbridge on their way to or from the sea.[20]

Adélie penguins living in the Ross Sea region in Antarctica migrate an average of about 13,000 kilometres (8,100 mi) during the year as they follow the sun from their breeding colonies to winter foraging grounds and back again. "Follow the sun" means that during the winter the sun doesn't rise south of the Antarctic Circle, but sea ice grows during the winter months and increases for hundreds of miles from the shoreline, and into more northern latitudes, all around Antarctica, so that as long as the penguins live at the edge of the fast ice, there will be sunlight. As the ice recedes in the spring, they remain on the edge of it, until they are once again on the shoreline during a sunnier season. The longest treks have been recorded at 17,600 kilometres (10,900 mi).[21]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ About 100 pamphlets of the notes he took had been circulated to a selected few bearing the bold header Not for Publication. "Levick himself was equally cautious. References to these observations in the notebooks have often been coded by his rewriting certain entries on these behaviours using the Greek alphabet and then pasting this new text over the original entry (Fig. 1), whilst some entries were written directly in the Greek alphabet".[16] The following is an example of such a note; a transcription into the English alphabet is given on the right:

    Θις ἀφτερνooν ἰ σαυ ἀ μoστ εχτραoρδιναρι σιtε. ἀ πενγυιν ὐας ἀκτυαλλι ενyαyεδ ἰν σoδoμι ᾿uπoν θε βoδι ὀφ ἀ δεαδ ὑιτε θρoατεδ βιρδ ὀφ ἰτς ὀνε σπεσιες. Θε ἀκτ ὀccυπιεδ ἀ φυλλ μινυτε, θε πoσιτιoν τακεν ὐπ βι θε κoχ διφφερινy ἰν νo ρεσπεκτ φρoμ θατ ὀφ ὀρδιναρι κoπυλατιoν, ἀνδ θε ὑoλε ακτ ὐας yoνε θρoυ, δoυν τo θε φιναλ δεπρεςςιoν ὀφ θε χλoακα.[16]

    This afternoon I saw a most extraordinary site [sic]. A penguin was actually engaged in sodomy upon the body of a dead white throated bird of its own species. The act occurred a full minute, the position taken up by the cock differing in no respect from that of ordinary copulation, and the whole act was gone through down to the final depression of the cloaca.[16]

References
  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Pygoscelis adeliae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Adélie, adj. and n. OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2014. Accessed 11 April 2014.
  3. ^ Baker AJ, Pereira SL, Haddrath OP, Edge KA (2006). "Multiple gene evidence for expansion of extant penguins out of Antarctica due to global cooling". Proc Biol Sci. 273 (1582): 11–17. doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3260. PMC 1560011. PMID 16519228. Retrieved 21 March 2008. 
  4. ^ Schwaller, M. R.; Southwell, C. J.; Emmerson, L. M. (2013). "Continental-scale mapping of Adélie penguin colonies from Landsat imagery". Remote Sensing of Environment 139: 353. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2013.08.009.  edit
  5. ^ "Climate change winners and losers". 3 News NZ. April 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae)". ARKive. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Adélie Penguin". Sea World. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  8. ^ Cherry-Garrard, Apsley (2000). The Worst Journey in the World. Picador. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-330-48135-9. 
  9. ^ Levick, Antarctic Penguins, P. 83
  10. ^ a b Scott’s Last Expedition vol. I pp 92–3
  11. ^ a b Cherry-Garrard, Apsley (2000). The Worst Journey in the World. Picador. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-330-48135-9. 
  12. ^ Cherry-Garrard, Apsley (2000). The Worst Journey in the World. Picador. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-330-48135-9. 
  13. ^ S.D. Emslie & W.P. Patterson (July 2007). "Abrupt recent shift in δ13C and δ15N values in Adélie penguin eggshell in Antarctica". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104 (28): 11666–11669. doi:10.1073/pnas.0608477104. PMC 1913849. PMID 17620620. 
  14. ^ Eccleston, Paul (11 December 2007). "Penguins now threatened by global warming". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  15. ^ McKie, Robin (9 June 2012). "'Sexual depravity' of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal". The Guardian. 
  16. ^ a b c d Russell, D. G. D.; Sladen, W. J. L.; Ainley, D. G. (2012). "Dr. George Murray Levick (1876–1956): Unpublished notes on the sexual habits of the Adélie penguin". Polar Record 48 (4): 1. doi:10.1017/S0032247412000216.  edit
  17. ^ a b c McKie, Robin (9 June 2012). "'Sexual depravity' of penguins that Antarctic scientist dared not reveal". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "Shock at sexually ‘depraved’ penguins led to 100-year censorship". The Week. 10 June 2012. 
  19. ^ Ainley, David G. (2002). The Adélie Penguin: Bellwether of Climate Change. Columbia University Press. pp. 310 pp. with 23 illustrations, 51 figures, 48 tables, 16 plates. ISBN 0-231-12306-X. 
  20. ^ Lescroël, A. L.; Ballard, G.; Grémillet, D.; Authier, M.; Ainley, D. G. (2014). "Antarctic Climate Change: Extreme Events Disrupt Plastic Phenotypic Response in Adélie Penguins". In Descamps, Sébastien. PLoS ONE 9: e85291. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085291.  edit
  21. ^ Rejcek, Peter (13 August 2010). "Researchers follow Adélie penguin winter migration for the first time". The Antarctic Sun. 
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