Antarctic Science

Papers—Life Sciences and Oceanography

Spatial relationships of Adélie penguin colonies: implications for assessing population changes from remote imagery

Eric J. Woehler a1 and Martin J. Riddle a1
a1 Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Kingston, TAS 7050, Australia, E-mail:

Article author query
woehler e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
riddle m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The relationship between colony area and population density of Adélie penguins Pygoscelis adeliae was examined to determine whether colony area, measured from aerial or satellite imagery, could be used to estimate population density, and hence detect changes in populations over time. Using maps drawn from vertical aerial photographs of Adélie penguin colonies in the Mawson region, pair density ranged between 0.1 and 3.1 pairs m−2, with a mean of 0.63 ± 0.3 pairs m−2. Colony area explained 96.4% of the variance in colony populations (range 90.4–99.6%) for 979 colonies at Mawson. Mean densities were not significantly different among the 19 islands in the region, but significant differences in mean pair density were observed among colonies in Mawson, Whitney Point (Casey, East Antarctica) and Cape Crozier (Ross Sea) populations. The relationship between colony area and population may be locality-and/or species-specific, and a robust data set is required to validate the relationship.

(Received October 22 1997)
(Accepted April 14 1998)

Key Words: Adélie penguin; Mawson; population change; population monitoring; remote sensing.