In order to reconstruct past changes in penguin populations we performed geochemical analyses on a penguin ornithogenic sediment core DG4 retrieved from a lake catchment on Gardner Island, Vestfold Hills. P, Se, F, S, As, Sr and Cu in DG4 were identified as the bio-element assemblage by R-clustering analyses on the elemental concentrations and comparisons with those in bedrock and fresh penguin guano. Factor analysis on the levels of these bio-elements in the core permitted a reconstruction of variations in historical penguin populations at Gardner Island spanning the past 8500 years. The penguin population showed significant fluctuations, reaching its highest density between 4700–2400 calibrated years before present. This coincides with evidence for a late Holocene warm period in the Vestfold Hills, similar to that associated with the late Holocene penguin optimum recorded in the Ross Sea and Antarctic Peninsula regions.
(Received February 17 2009)
(Accepted May 20 2009)
(Online publication August 12 2009)