An Interpretation of the Growth of the Adelie Penguin Rookery at Cape Royds, 1955-1990
- Datalogisk Institut, Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
- DSIR Land Resources, Private Bag, Nelson, New Zealand
The population dynamics of the Cape Royds rookery were modelled by computer, in order to determine the probable causes of the dramatic increase since 1980 in the numbers of Adelie penguins, Pygoscelis adeliae, breeding in the Ross Sea region, Antarctica. Variations in the extent of sea-ice around the rookery during incubation and chick rearing cannot feasibly explain the population increase and another factor or event must be introduced, which increases chick production per breeding pair and decreases adult mortality. The timing of the event is critical and rules out the cessation of human impacts or the depletion of competing baleen whales as causal factors. The event is seen as most probably the result of a recent warming of the Ross Sea climate.