Penguin heaven: multi-decade science reveals secret lives of Adélies 13 May 2022

Australian Antarctic Division

Long-term Australian research shows that the breeding population of Adélie penguins in the Windmill Islands region of East Antarctica has increased sixfold over the past 60 years.

Seabird conservation ecologist with the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Colin Southwell, said that the AAD’s research draws from generations of field biologists building one of the longest time-series of data available from Antarctica. Results are published in the ecological research journal Oecologia.

“We’ve used historical data that people collected back in the 1960s and 1980s and joined it with our current data,” Dr Southwell said.

“Over that time, the regional population has increased by a factor of six. It used to be about 30,000 breeding pairs, and now it’s almost 200,000 breeding pairs. That’s nearly half a million seabirds. It’s a very large population in the Windmill Islands, the third largest in East Antarctica.”

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