Adelie Penguin Pygoscelis adeliae

Family: Spheniscidae (Penguins)

Authority: (Hombron & Jacquinot, 1841)

Red List Category

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Justification of Red List category
The population has been stable or increasing recently throughout most of its breeding range, particularly in East Antarctica, the Ross Sea and on the southern Antarctic Peninsula south of 66° S (Sailley et al. 2013, Lyver et al. 2014, Southwell 2015a,b). This contrasts with the well-documented population decrease among colonies on the South Orkney Islands (Dunn et al. 2016) and on the west coast of the northern Antarctic Peninsula (e.g. Fraser et al. 1992, Lynch et al. 2012, Cimino et al. 2016a). Modelling exercises now replicate some of the strongest population changes observed (Che-Castaldo et al. 2017). East Antarctic regional and Ross Sea populations have almost doubled in abundance since the 1980s and have been increasing, or stable, since the earliest counts in the 1960s (Taylor and Wilson 1990, Wilson et al. 2001, Lyver et al. 2014, Southwell et al. 2015a, Southwell and Emmerson 2019). The population changes are associated with five-year lagged changes in the physical environment, suggesting that the changing environment impacts primarily on the pre-breeding age classes (Wilson et al. 2001, Southwell et al. 2015a,b). Recently, improved reporting of some large colonies, including mega-colonies on the Danger Islands (Borowicz et al. 2018), also highlight the probable stability of the colonies on the north eastern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, though further studies would help reduce uncertainty in this region.

Currently, the net change in world population is positive (Lynch and LaRue 2014), which, along with the size of its total population numbering in the millions, qualifies the species to be listed as Least Concern. However, modelled projections suggest a future decrease at a circumpolar scale (Ainley et al. 2010). The species is considered to be an ice obligate (Ainley 2002), and recent population increases are coincident with increasing sea ice extent and coastal polynya persistence (cf Ainley et al. 2005, Massom and Stammerjohn 2010, Massonnet et al. 2015, Parkinson 2019), although at some sites, too much ice during critical times in the breeding season can reduce breeding success (Massom et al. 2006, Emmerson and Southwell 2008, Ropert-Coudert et al. 2018a). It will be important to review such coincident trends on a regular basis.

Population size: 10000000

Population trend: Increasing

Extent of occurrence (breeding/resident): 21,000,000 km2

Country endemic: No

Realm - Afrotropical
Realm - Neotropical
Realm - Oceanic
Realm - Antarctic
IUCN Ecosystem -- Terrestrial biome
IUCN Ecosystem -- Marine biome

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Pygoscelis adeliae. Downloaded from on 25/09/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/09/2021.