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Pygoscelis adeliae 

Scope:Global
Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_onStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_offStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Sphenisciformes Spheniscidae

Scientific Name: Pygoscelis adeliae
Species Authority: (Hombron & Jacquinot, 1841)
Common Name(s):
English Adelie Penguin
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Ainley, D., Kooyman, G. & Woehler, E.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Taylor, J.
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.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

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. 

Countries occurrence:
Native:
Antarctica; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Vagrant:
Argentina; Australia; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); French Southern Territories; Heard Island and McDonald Islands; New Zealand
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 148000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

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.

Trend Justification:  An analysis carried out by Ainley et al. (2010) suggests that all colonies north of 67-68°S could be lost by the time that Earth's average tropospheric temperature reaches 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with negative impacts on all colonies north of 70°S. In this study, 2042 is the median year (range 2025-2052) at which a 2°C warming is forecast to be exceeded by the four climate models used (those models used in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report [AR4] that most closely predicted data collected on environmental conditions in the Southern Ocean over recent decades) (Ainley et al. 2010). An ensemble of these models was then used to predict changes in climate and habitat in the Southern Ocean until 2025-2052, namely sea ice extent, persistence, concentration and thickness, wind speeds, precipitation and air temperature. Predictions were then made based on historic responses of the species to past variation in environmental conditions (Ainley et al. 2010). Although the declines predicted by Ainley et al. (2010) 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 carried out a population trend projection over three generations (36 years; trend period 2012-2048), assuming an exponential decline, based on the precautionary assumption that negative impacts will occur before a warming of 2°C is reached. The current total number of breeding pairs is estimated at 2.37 million (range 1.83-2.88 million), based on survey data collated and published by Woehler (1993) and Woehler and Croxall (1997). According to the same data, the number of pairs situated in colonies north of 67°S is estimated to be 926,000 (range 595,000-1,270,000). A trend projection is made based on the loss of colonies north of 67°S over a time scale of 2012-2042, projecting a decline of c.45% over 36 years (by 2048). However, in this species some relocation of colonies is expected, with growth perhaps occurring south of 73°S (Ainley et al. 2010). The species would be expected to colonise new areas as the collapse of ice shelves in northern portions of its range exposes new areas of coastline, and as highly concentrated sea ice at southern latitudes becomes more divergent. Reduced suitability of nesting habitat, however, 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). It has been shown, however, that a simple latitudinal gradient in the loss of sea ice is unlikely, and that warming has so far been regional in the Antarctic (Zwally et al. 2002, Turner et al. 2009, Trathan et al. 2011, Fretwell et al. 2012). With these uncertainties in mind, the species is projected to decline at a rate of 20-29% over the next three generations.
Current Population Trend: Increasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 4740000 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

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
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 12
Movement patterns: Full Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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).

Conservation Actions [top]

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.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Pygoscelis adeliae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22697758A40175259. . Downloaded on 27 June 2016.
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