Adelie Penguin Pygoscelis adeliae


Taxonomic source(s)
Christidis, L. and Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Turbott, E.G. 1990. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2018 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
2012 Near Threatened A3c
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 -
Extent of occurrence (EOO)

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 21,000,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 32,000,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -
Population and trend
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 7580000 medium estimated 2014
Population trend Increasing estimated -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulations - - -
Generation length (yrs) 12 - - -

Population justification:

The total global population was previously estimated at c.2.37 million breeding pairs (range 1.83-2.88 million pairs) equating to 4.74 million mature individuals, based on survey data collated up to the mid-1990s (Woehler 1993, Woehler and Croxall 1997). More recently, Lynch and La Rue (2014) estimated the global population to be 3.79 million pairs (range 3.52-4.10 million pairs), equating to 7.58 million mature individuals, based on satellite imagery obtained between 2006 and 2011.

Trend justification: Lynch and LaRue (2014) reported that the global population had increased between the times of the two global estimates in the mid-1990s and 2014 (Woehler 1993, Woehler and Croxall 1997, Lynch and La Rue 2014), with 27% of the difference accounted for by increasing abundance at known colonies and 32% of the difference accounted for by colonies that had not previously been surveyed. Recent direct surveys in East Antarctica (Southwell et al. 2015a, b) have estimated a greater increase in this region (average rate of increase of 1.9% (1.3%-2.4%) per year over 30 years), indicating that the increase in the global population is probably greater than the 27%.

Recent population increases were found in those regions where most of the world population breeds, including East Antarctica and Victoria Land in the Ross Sea (Southwell et al. 2015a, b, Lyver et al. 2014); the species is now also increasing on the southern Antarctic Peninsula south of 66° S (Sailley et al. 2013). In the northern Peninsula region, there is also new evidence that some populations are beginning to stabilize after decades of significant decrease (Fountain et al. 2016); population decreases had previously occurred in the northern Peninsula region (Fraser et al. 1992). The net change in world population is now positive (Lynch and LaRue 2014). It should be noted that modelled projections in response to climate change, with associated inherent uncertainty, suggest that populations could decline north of 70ᵒS in the future (Ainley et al. 2010, see also Cimino et al. 2016), and such decline will necessitate a future re-examination of the Adélie Penguin’s status.

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

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands South Sandwich Islands
Argentina Islas Sandwich del Sur
Antarctica Hope Bay Marine - Antarctic Sound
Antarctica Signy Island - Marine
Antarctica Powell Island - Marine
Antarctica Avian Island
Antarctica Eden Rocks
Antarctica Paulet Island
Antarctica Hope Bay
Antarctica Madder Cliffs, Joinville Island
Antarctica Point Martin, Laurie Island
Antarctica Ferrier Peninsula / Graptolite Island
Antarctica Brown Bluff
Antarctica Danger Islands
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands South Sandwich Islands - Marine
Antarctica Beaufort Island
Antarctica Bolingen Island to Svenner Island, Princess Elizabeth Land
Antarctica Cape Adare
Antarctica Cape Bird, Ross Island
Antarctica Cotter Cliffs
Antarctica Cape Crozier, Ross Island
Antarctica Seabee Hook, Cape Hallett
Antarctica Coulman Island, Ross Sea
Antarctica Franklin Island, Ross Sea
Antarctica Lovill Bluff, Marie Byrd Land
Antarctica MacKellar Islands
Antarctica Mawson Coast, Enderby Land
Antarctica Pointe Géologie
Antarctica Possession Island
Antarctica Rauer Group, Princess Elizabeth Land
Antarctica Rookery Islands
Antarctica Scullin Monolith / Murray Monolith
Antarctica Shepard Island, Marie Byrd Land
Antarctica Vestfold Hills & offshore islands, Princess Elizabeth Land
Antarctica Duroch Islands
Antarctica Weddell Islands
Antarctica Southern Powell Island and adjacent islands
Antarctica Shingle Cove
Antarctica Signy Island
Antarctica West Admiralty Bay, King George Island
Antarctica Ambush Bay, Joinville Island
Antarctica D’Urville Monument, Joinville Island
Antarctica Penguin Point, Seymour Island
Antarctica Cockburn Island
Antarctica Devil Island
Antarctica Gourdin Island
Antarctica Mount Biscoe
Antarctica Cape Batterbee
Antarctica Gibbney Island
Antarctica Klung Island / Welch Island
Antarctica Andersen Island
Antarctica Kirton Island / Macklin Island
Antarctica Caro Island, Rauer Islands
Antarctica Hop Island, Rauer Islands
Antarctica Filla Island, Rauer Islands
Antarctica Kazak Island / Zolotov Island
Antarctica Unnamed island at Donskiye Islands
Antarctica Warriner Island, Donskiye Islands
Antarctica Gardner Island
Antarctica Magnetic Island and nearby islands
Antarctica Lucas Island
Antarctica Rookery Lake / W Long Peninsula
Antarctica Tryne Islands
Antarctica Haswell Island
Antarctica Peterson Island
Antarctica Holl Island / O’Connor Island
Antarctica Ardery Island / Odbert Island
Antarctica Shirley Island / Beall Island
Antarctica Clark Peninsula
Antarctica Berkley Island / Cameron Island
Antarctica Cape Bienvenue
Antarctica Cape Jules
Antarctica Île des Manchots / Empereur Island
Antarctica Curzon Islands
Antarctica Cape Hunter
Antarctica Cape Denison
Antarctica Way Archipelago
Antarctica Cape Pigeon Rocks
Antarctica Kartografov Island / Mount Archer
Antarctica Arthurson Ridge
Antarctica Duke of York Island
Antarctica Downshire Cliffs
Antarctica Foyn Island
Antarctica Mandible Cirque
Antarctica Cape Main, Coulman Island
Antarctica Adélie Cove
Antarctica Inexpressible Island
Antarctica McDonald Beach, Cape Bird
Antarctica Caughley Beach, Cape Bird
Antarctica Franklin Island southwest
Antarctica Worley Point, Shepard Island
Antarctica Mathewson Point, Shepard Island
Antarctica Maher Island
Antarctica Brownson Islands
Antarctica Edwards Islands
Antarctica Schaefer Islands
Antarctica Lindsey Islands
Antarctica Sims Island
Antarctica Stigant Point, King George Island
Antarctica Admiralty Bay and adjacent waters
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands South Sandwich Islands 2 - Marine
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands South Sandwich Islands 1 - Marine
Antarctica Rosenthal Islands

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 non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major breeding
Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks) major breeding
Altitude   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 Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion, Reduced reproductive success
Human intrusions & disturbance Work & other activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species disturbance, Reduced reproductive success
Pollution Industrial & military effluents - Oil spills Timing Scope Severity Impact
Past, Likely to Return Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Past Impact
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent
Research - - International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Pygoscelis adeliae. Downloaded from on 22/10/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2020.