Dr. Steve Emslie

Adélie Penguins and Climate Change in Antarctica: Past, Present, and Future

Dr. Steve Emslie
UNC Wilmington

March 29, 2023

Hosted By Dr. Bryan McLean


I will provide an overview of penguin ecology in Antarctica with a synopsis of his research and the impacts of climate change that he has witnessed in over 25 years of work there. Five species of penguins breed in Antarctica but only two are endemic, the Adélie and the Emperor Penguin. I describe ecology and breeding biology of the Adélie Penguin, the most abundant species in Antarctica that also acts as an excellent indicator species for the marine environment. This species also has the longest fossil record of any seabird in Antarctica that allows stable isotope, ancient DNA, and radiocarbon analyses of well-preserved tissues extending from hundreds to thousands of years in age. This record is providing insight on the ecological responses by the Adélie Penguin to climate change in the past, allowing predictions of their responses in the future as we continue to see dramatic changes in the Antarctic environment. I will also discuss new directions in this research using a combination of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotopes to assess penguin foraging areas.