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Ballard G.,PRBO Point Reyes Bird Observatory Conservation Science | Ballard G.,University of Auckland | Toniolo V.,Stanford University | Ainley D.G.,H.T. Harvey and Associates | And 3 more authors.
Ecology | Year: 2010

Long-distance migration enables many organisms to take advantage of lucrative breeding and feeding opportunities during summer at high latitudes and then to move to lower, more temperate latitudes for the remainder of the year. The latitudinal range of the Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) spans ∼22°. Penguins from northern colonies may not migrate, but due to the high latitude of Ross Island colonies, these penguins almost certainly undertake the longest migrations for the species. Previous work has suggested that Adélies require both pack ice and some ambient light at all times of year. Over a three-year period, which included winters of both extensive and reduced sea ice, we investigated characteristics of migratory routes and wintering locations of Adélie Penguins from two colonies of very different size on Ross Island, Ross Sea, the southernmost colonies for any penguin. We acquired data from 3-16 geolocation sensor tags (GLS) affixed to penguins each year at both Cape Royds and Cape Crozier in 2003-2005. Migrations averaged 12 760 km, with the longest being 17600 km, and were in part facilitated by pack ice movement. Trip distances varied annually, but not by colony. Penguins rarely traveled north of the main sea-ice pack, and used areas with high sea-ice concentration, ranging from 75% to 85%, about 500 km inward from the ice edge. They also used locations where there was some twilight (2-7 h with sun <6° below the horizon). We report the present Adélie Penguin migration pattern and conjecture on how it probably has changed over the past ∼12 000 years, as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet withdrew southward across the Ross Sea, a situation that no other Adélie Penguin population has had to confront. As sea ice extent in the Ross Sea sector decreases in the near future, as predicted by climate models, we can expect further changes in the migration patterns of the Ross Sea penguins. © 2010 by the Ecological Society of America. Source

Ainley D.G.,H.T. Harvey and Associates | Pauly D.,University of British Columbia
Polar Record | Year: 2014

The history of biotic exploitation for the continental margin (shelf and slope) of the Antarctic Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) is reviewed, with emphasis on the period from 1970 to 2010. In the Antarctic Peninsula portion, marine mammals were decimated by the 1970s and groundfish by the early 1980s. Fishing for Antarctic krill Euphausia superba began upon the demise of groundfish and now is the only fishing that remains in this region. Surveys show that cetacean and most groundfish stocks remain severely depressed, harvest of which is now prohibited by the International Whaling Commission and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). On the other hand, krill fishing in this region is underway and in recent years has contributed up to 72% of the Southern Ocean catch, depending on fishing conditions and the CCAMLR conservation measures in force. Elsewhere along the Antarctic continental margin, marine mammals were also severely depleted by the 1970s, followed directly by relatively low-level fisheries for krill that continued until the early 1990s. Recently in these areas, where fin-fishing is still allowed, fisheries for Antarctic toothfish Dissostichus mawsoni have been initiated, with one of this fish's main prey, grenadiers Macrourus spp., being taken significantly as by-catch. Continental margin fishing currently accounts for ~25% of the total toothfish catch of the Southern Ocean. Fishing along the Antarctic continental margin, especially the Antarctic Peninsula region, is a clear case of both the tragedy of the commons and 'fishing down the food web'. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013. Source

LaRue M.A.,University of Minnesota | Ainley D.G.,H.T. Harvey and Associates | Swanson M.,University of Minnesota | Dugger K.M.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

There will be winners and losers as climate change alters the habitats of polar organisms. For an Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) colony on Beaufort Island (Beaufort), part of a cluster of colonies in the southern Ross Sea, we report a recent population increase in response to increased nesting habitat as glaciers have receded. Emigration rates of birds banded as chicks on Beaufort to colonies on nearby Ross Island decreased after 2005 as available habitat on Beaufort increased, leading to altered dynamics of the metapopulation. Using aerial photography beginning in 1958 and modern satellite imagery, we measured change in area of available nesting habitat and population size of the Beaufort colony. Population size varied with available habitat, and both increased rapidly since the 1990s. In accord with glacial retreat, summer temperatures at nearby McMurdo Station increased by ~0.50°C per decade since the mid-1980s. Although the Ross Sea is likely to be the last ocean with an intact ecosystem, the recent retreat of ice fields at Beaufort that resulted in increased breeding habitat exemplifies a process that has been underway in the Ross Sea during the entire Holocene. Furthermore, our results are in line with predictions that major ice shelves and glaciers will retreat rapidly elsewhere in the Antarctic, potentially leading to increased breeding habitat for Adélie penguins. Results further indicated that satellite imagery may be used to estimate large changes in Adélie penguin populations, facilitating our understanding of metapopulation dynamics and environmental factors that influence regional populations. Source

Ainley D.G.,H.T. Harvey and Associates | Ballard G.,PRBO Conservation Science
Polar Biology | Year: 2012

Recent research has clearly shown that the fear of predation, i. e. aversion to taking risks, among mesopredators or grazers, and not merely flight from an apex predator to avoid predation, is an important aspect of ecosystem structuring. In only a few, though well-documented cases, however, has this been considered in the marine environment. Herein, we review studies that have quantified behavioral responses of Adélie penguins Pygoscelis adeliae and emperor penguins Aptenodytes forsteri to the direct presence of predators, and question why the penguins avoid entering or exiting the water at night. We also show, through literature review and new analyses of Adélie penguin diving data, that Antarctic penguins are capable of successful prey capture in the dark (defined here as <3.4 lux). Finally, we summarize extensive data on seasonal migration relative to darkness and prey availability. On the basis of our findings, we propose that penguins' avoidance of foraging at night is due to fear of predation, and not to an inability to operate effectively in darkness. We further propose that, at polar latitudes where darkness is more a seasonal than a year-round, daily feature, this "risk aversion" affects migratory movements in both species, consistent with the "trade-off" hypothesis seen in other marine vertebrates weighing foraging success against predation risk in their choice of foraging habitat. Such non-consumptive, behavioral aspects of species interactions have yet to be considered as important in Southern Ocean food webs, but may help to explain enigmatic movement patterns and choice of foraging grounds in these penguin species. © 2011 Springer-Verlag. Source

Ainley D.G.,H.T. Harvey and Associates | Nur N.,PRBO Conservation Science | Eastman J.T.,Ohio University | Ballard G.,PRBO Conservation Science | And 3 more authors.
Fish and Fisheries | Year: 2013

We report the analyses of a dataset spanning 39 years of near-annual fishing for Dissostichus mawsoni in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, 1972-2011. Data on total length, condition and catch per unit effort (CPUE) were derived from the > 5500 fish caught, the large majority of which were measured, tagged and released. Contrary to expectation, the length frequency of the McMurdo Sound catch was dominated by fish in the upper two-thirds of the overall distribution exhibited in the industrial catch for the Ross Sea shelf. Fish length and condition increased from the early 1970s to the early 1990s and then decreased. Fish length positively correlated with Ross Sea ice extent in early spring, a relationship possibly caused by more ice encouraging larger fish to move farther south over the shelf and into the study area. Fish condition positively correlated with the amount of open water in the Ross Sea during the previous summer (Feb), perhaps reflecting greater availability of prey with the higher productivity that more open water brings. Decreasing fish size corresponds to the onset of the fishery, which targets the large individuals. CPUE was constant through 2001 and then decreased dramatically. We hypothesize that this decrease is related to the industrial fishery, which began in the 1996-97 austral summer, and concentrates effort over the ice-free Ross Sea continental slope. As a result of limited prey choices and close coupling among mesopredators of the region, Antarctic toothfish included, the fishery appears to be dramatically altering the trophic structure of the Ross Sea. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

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