Volume 47, No. 2
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Key words: Emperor Penguin, Snow Hill Island colony, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, population size, moulting chicks, sea ice cover, climate change
Snow Hill Island is of particular importance because it is the site of the northernmost colony of Emperor Penguins Aptenodytes forsteri. The colony was first discovered and counted in 1997 and has been visited sporadically, with counts conducted in 2004, 2009, and 2013, ranging from 1 200-4 000 breeding pairs. In December 2018, we photographed the entire colony. From photos, we counted 2 679 chicks and 339 adult Emperor Penguins, corresponding to a population of at least 2 700 breeding pairs. Although the census took place late in the breeding cycle when some chicks had already left the colony, the population size is well above the censuses of 1997 and 2009 but significantly below counts from 2004 and 2013. Snow Hill Island, located off the Antarctic Peninsula coast, is in an area strongly influenced by recent climatic developments. The Dion Island colony on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula is also among the northernmost colonies, but it disappeared in 2009, presumably due to the climatic factors. Therefore, monitoring this Snow Hill colony is crucial.
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Emperor Breeding Cycle [Online]. Kingston, Tasmania, Australia: Australian Antarctic Division. [Available online at: https://antarctica.gov.au/about-antarctica. Accessed 07 March 2019].
BARBRAUD, C. & WEIMERSKIRCH, H. 2001. Emperor penguins and climate change. Nature 411: 183-186.
BirdLife International. 2019. Important Bird Areas factsheet: Snow Hill Island. [Available online at: http://datazone.birdlife.org/site/factsheet/snow-hill-island-iba-antarctica. Accessed 07 March 2019].
CORIA, N.R. & MONTALTI, D. 2000. A newly discovered breeding colony of Emperor Penguins Aptenodytes forsteri. Marine Ornithology 28: 119-120.
FRETWELL, P.T., LARUE, M.A., MORIN, P., KOOYMAN, G.L. ET AL. 2012. An emperor penguin population estimate: the first global, synoptic survey of a species from space. PLoS ONE 7: e3375. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033751.
FRETWELL, P.T. & TRATHAN, P.N. 2019. Emperors on thin ice: three years of breeding failure at Halley bay. Antarctic Science 1.doi:1017/S0954102019000099
FRETWELL, P.T., TRATHAN, P.N., WIENECKE, B. & KOOYMAN, G.L. 2014. Emperor penguins breeding on iceshelves. PLoS ONE 9: e85285. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085285.
IAATO. 2015. Emperor Penguins Colony Visitor Guidelines. South Kingston, Rhode Island, USA: International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO). [Available online at: https://iaato.org/documents/10157/1827897/Emperor+Penguin+Guidelines.pdf/7c8a6f54-49ad-4916-9f83-157b96a2421a. Accessed 07 March 2019].
JENOUVRIER, S., HOLLAND, M., STROEVE, J., SERREZE, M. ET AL. 2014. Projected continent-wide declines of the emperor penguin under climate change. Nature Climate Change Letters 4: 715-718. doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE2280
JOUVENTIN, P. 1975. Mortality parameters in emperor penguins Aptenodytes forsteri. In: STONEHOUSE, B. (Ed.) The Biology of Penguins. London, UK: MacMillan, pp. 435-446.
JOUVENTIN, P., STAHL, J.-C., WEIMERSKIRCH, H. & MOUGIN, J.L. 1984. The seabirds of the French subantarctic islands and Adelie Land, their status and conservation. In: CROXALL, J.P. ET AL. (Eds). Status and Conservation of the World's Seabirds. ICBP Technical Publication, No. 2, pp 609-625. Cambridge, UK: International Council for Bird Preservation.
KOOYMAN, G.L., HUNKE, E.C., ACKLEY, S.F., VAN DAM, R.P. & ROBERTSON, G. 2000. Moult of the emperor penguin: travel, location and habitat selection. Marine Ecology Progress Series 204: 269-277.
LARUE, M., KOOYMAN, G., LYNCH, H.J. & FRETWELL, P. 2015. Emigration in emperor penguins: implications for interpretation of long-term studies. Ecography 38: 114-120.
LIBERTELLI, M.M. & CORIA, N. 2014. Censuses in the northernmost colony of Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) in the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula at Snow Hill Island, Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Document WG-EMM-14/56. Hobart, Australia: CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring and Management Working Group.
Shirihai, H. 2002. A Complete Guide to Antarctic Wildlife: The Birds and Marine Mammals of the Antarctic Continent and the Southern Ocean. Oy, Finland: ALULA Press.
STONEHOUSE, B. 1953. The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri Gray): Breeding behaviour and development, Part 1. London, UK: British Antarctic Survey.
Teschke, K., Beaver, D., Bester, M.N., ET AL. 2016. Scientific background document in support of the development of a CCAMLR MPA in the Weddell Sea (Antarctica)—Version 2016, Part A: General context of the establishment of MPAs and background information on the Weddell Sea MPA planning area. WG-EMM-16/01, CCAMLR. Warsaw, Poland: CCAMLR.
Todd, F.S., Adie, S. & Splettstoesser, J.F. 2004. First Ground Visit to the Emperor Penguin Aptenodytes forsteri Colony at Snow Hill Island, Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Marine Ornithology 32: 193-194.
Trathan, P.N., Fretwell, P.T. & Stonehouse, B. 2011. First recorded loss of an emperor penguin colony in the recent period of Antarctic regional warming: implications for other colonies. PLoS ONE 6: e14738. doi:10.1371/journal pone.0014738.
WIENECKE, B. 2008 Young emperor penguins: where do they go? Australian Antarctic Magazine 15: 2008.