Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Adélie census data

The aim is to census Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae) populations to provide basic data against which future population levels can be compared in order to monitor environmental change of the Antarctic Ocean ecosystem, both natural and man-induced.


The Adélie penguin is one of the dependent species studied by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) members and used as a monitoring tool to detect any anthropogenic effects on the marine ecosystem. One of the key goals of CCAMLR is to ensure that commercial fishing does not irreversibly harm ecosystem relationships. One mechanism to avoid this is to use monitoring of top-trophic predators (Adélie penguins) to gauge ecosystem health.

Aerial reconnaissance and photography are used in the Ross Sea sector of Antarctica to determine the breeding locations of Adélie penguins and to count the numbers of nests occupied during the early incubation period. From 1981 to present, all islands and sea coasts between 158°E and 175°E have been searched, and 11 previously unreported breeding colonies discovered.