Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 25 Issue 03

View Issue TOC
Volume 25, No. 3
Pages 120 - 121


SIDEBAR • Letting Penguins Lead: Dynamic Modeling of Penguin Locations Guides Autonomous Robotic Sampling

Matthew J. Oliver Mark A. MolineIan Robbins William Fraser Donna PattersonOscar Schofield
First Paragraph

The southwest coast of Anvers Island harbors one of five major populations of Adélie penguins in the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP; Fraser and Trivelpiece, 1996). This “hotspot” is colocated with a submarine canyon that provides a conduit for warm, nutrient-rich Upper Circumpolar Deep Water to stimulate primary production and support a productive ecosystem (Prézelin et al., 2004). Paleoecological evidence shows Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) have used this location for hundreds of years (Emslie et al., 1998). Since the mid- to late twentieth century, the Southern Ocean near the WAP has warmed significantly (Gille, 2002) and has lost significant sea ice (Stammerjohn et al., 2008). The maritime climate of the northern WAP has shifted poleward, replacing the cold continental Antarctic climate in the Anvers Island region. During this time period, there has been an 80% decrease in the sea ice dependent Adélie penguin populations and an introduction and increase of Gentoo penguins (P. papua; Ducklow et al., 2007). Sympatry of Adélie and Gentoo penguins during the breeding season is new to this coast, and it not known if these species will continue to coexist or if the Gentoos will supplant the Adélies. The stability of this new species interaction depends on how well each species is able to exploit the coastal ecosystem. It may be that while submarine canyons offer predictable prey populations, different foraging strategies may allow Gentoos better access to existing prey (krill and fish) populations relative to Adélies. This situation is difficult to assess because penguins are dynamic predators that rapidly forage for krill and fish across a heterogeneous and complex coastal ocean.


Oliver, M.J., M.A. Moline, I. Robbins, W. Fraser, D. Patterson, and O. Schofield. 2012. Letting penguins lead: Dynamic modeling of penguin locations guides autonomous robotic sampling. Oceanography 25(3):120–121, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2012.84.


Ducklow, H.W., K. Baker, D.G. Martinson, L.B. Quetin, R.M. Ross, R.C. Smith, S.E. Stammerjohn, M. Vernet, and W. Fraser. 2007. Marine pelagic ecosystems: The West Antarctic Peninsula. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 362:67–94, https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2006.1955.

Emslie, S.D., W. Fraser, R.C. Smith, and W. Walker. 1998. Abandoned penguin colonies and environmental change in the Palmer Station area, Anvers Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctic Science 10:257–268, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954102098000352.

Fraser, W.R., and W.Z. Trivelpiece. 1996. Factors controlling the distribution of seabirds: Winter-summer heterogeneity in the distribution of Adélie penguin populations. Pp. 257–272 in Foundations for Ecological Research West of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctic Research Series, vol. 70, R.M. Ross, E.E. Hofmann, and L.B. Quetin, eds, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, https://doi.org/10.1029/AR070p0257.

Gille, S.T. 2002. Warming of the Southern Ocean since the 1950s. Science 295:1,275–1,277, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1065863.

Kahl, L.A., O. Schofield, and W.R. Fraser. 2010. Autonomous gliders reveal features of the water column associated with foraging by Adélie penguins. Integrative and Comparative Biology 50:1,041–1,050, https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icq098.

Keating, K.A., and S. Cherry. 2009. Modeling utilization distributions in space and time. Ecology 90:1,971–1,980, https://doi.org/10.1890/08-1131.1.

Prézelin, B.B., E.E. Hofmann, M. Moline, and J.M. Klinck. 2004. Physical forcing of phytoplankton community structure and primary production in continental shelf waters of the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Marine Research 62:419–460, https://doi.org/10.1357/0022240041446173.

Schofield, O., J. Kohut, D. Aragon, L. Creed, J. Graver, C. Haldeman, J. Kerfoot, H. Roarty, C. Jones, D. Webb, and S.M. Glenn. 2007. Slocum gliders: Robust and ready. Journal of Field Robotics 24:473–485, https://doi.org/10.1002/rob.20200.

Stammerjohn, S.E., D.G. Martinson, R.C. Smith, and R.A. Iannuzzi. 2008. Sea ice in the Western Antarctic Peninsula region: Spatio-temporal variability from ecological and climate change perspectives. Deep Sea Research Part II 55:2,041–2,058, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.04.026.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.