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Adelie Penguin Pygoscelis adeliae

IUCN Red List Criteria

Near Threatened (criteria nearly met) A3c 

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Near Threatened
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -

Distribution

  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 148,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 16,800,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 4740000 medium Estimated 1997
Population trend Increasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 12 - - -
Population justification: The total number of breeding pairs is estimated at c.2.37 million (range 1.83-2.88 million), based on survey data collated and published by Woehler (1993) and Woehler and Croxall (1997), equating to at least 4.74 million mature individuals.
Trend justification: An analysis carried out by Ainley et al. (2010) suggests that all colonies north of 67-68°S could be lost by the time that Earth's average tropospheric temperature reaches 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with negative impacts on all colonies north of 70°S. In this study, 2042 is the median year (range 2025-2052) at which a 2°C warming is forecast to be exceeded by the four climate models used (those models used in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report [AR4] that most closely predicted data collected on environmental conditions in the Southern Ocean over recent decades) (Ainley et al. 2010). An ensemble of these models was then used to predict changes in climate and habitat in the Southern Ocean until 2025- 2052, namely sea ice extent, persistence, concentration and thickness, wind speeds, precipitation and air temperature. Predictions were then made based on historic responses of the species to past variation in environmental conditions (Ainley et al. 2010). Although the declines predicted by Ainley et al. (2010) may only start after a warming of 2°C above pre-industrial levels is reached, and overall trends will potentially be positive before this point (D. Ainley in litt. 2012), BirdLife International has carried out a population trend projection over three generations (36 years; trend period 2012- 2048), assuming an exponential decline, based on the precautionary assumption that negative impacts will occur before a warming of 2°C is reached. The current total number of breeding pairs is estimated at 2.37 million (range 1.83-2.88 million), based on survey data collated and published by Woehler (1993) and Woehler and Croxall (1997). According to the same data, the number of pairs situated in colonies north of 67°S is estimated to be 926,000 (range 595,000-1,270,000). A trend projection is made based on the loss of colonies north of 67°S over a time scale of 2012-2042, projecting a decline of c.45% over 36 years (by 2048). However, in this species some relocation of colonies is expected, with growth perhaps occurring south of 73°S (Ainley et al. 2010). The species would be expected to colonise new areas as the collapse of ice shelves in northern portions of its range exposes new areas of coastline, and as highly concentrated sea ice at southern latitudes becomes more divergent. Reduced suitability of nesting habitat, however, could result from an increase in the incidence of severe snowfall. In addition, annual migration and winter survival may be negatively affected by decreases in sea ice coverage at northern latitudes where the species requires a few hours of daylight in each 24-hour period (Ainley et al. 2010, Ballard et al. 2010). It has been shown, however, that a simple latitudinal gradient in the loss of sea ice is unlikely, and that warming has so far been regional in the Antarctic (Zwally et al. 2002, Turner et al. 2009, Trathan et al. 2011, Fretwell et al. 2012). With these uncertainties in mind, the species is projected to decline at a rate of 20-29% over the next three generations.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Antarctica Native Extant Yes      
Argentina Vagrant Extant        
Australia Vagrant Extant        
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Vagrant Extant        
French Southern Territories Vagrant Extant        
Heard Island and McDonald Islands (to Australia) Vagrant Extant        
New Zealand Vagrant Extant        
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Native Extant Yes      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Antarctica Avian Island site factsheet
Antarctica Brown Bluff site factsheet
Antarctica Danger Islands site factsheet
Antarctica Eden Rocks site factsheet
Antarctica Ferrier Peninsula / Graptolite Island, Laurie Island site factsheet
Antarctica Hope Bay site factsheet
Antarctica Madder Cliffs site factsheet
Antarctica Paulet Island site factsheet
Antarctica Point Martin, Laurie Island site factsheet
Argentina Islas Sandwich del Sur site factsheet
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands South Sandwich Islands site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major non-breeding
Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks) major breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources / Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Minority (<50%) Rapid Declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Human intrusions & disturbance Work & other activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species disturbance, Reduced reproductive success
Pollution Industrial & military effluents / Oil spills Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Decline Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality

Utilisation

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Research Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Pygoscelis adeliae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/08/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/08/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Spheniscidae (Penguins)
Species name author (Hombron & Jacquinot, 1841)
Population size 4740000 mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 148,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species