Adélie penguin energetic landscapes in relation to environmental variability
The current global warming has particularly important consequences in the polar regions which are key ecosystems in the regulation of the climate, via the melting of ice for example. In Antarctica, the sea ice plays a key role in maintaining biodiversity. It represents a substrate allowing the development of microbial communities (at the base of the elementary cycles; recycling of organic matter and inorganic nutrients). At the top of the trophic chain, sea ice is also vital to certain species of top predators (or “sea-ice obligate”). Thus, the study of marine predators at the top of trophic chains offers a powerful tool to easily study sea ice dependent ecosystems.
Indeed, if these species reproduce on land for the most part – making them easily accessible – all feed at sea. Their status is therefore highly dependent on the quality, distribution and quantity of marine resources. In this context, the development of bio-logging techniques since the 1990s has revolutionized the monitoring of marine predators. These recorders have recently made it possible to understand one of the major parameters in spatial ecology: the energy balance of an individual (energy gained vs. spent). The amount of data generated by these devices, combined with the development of new analysis tools such as machine learning or Individual Based Models (IBM), allow us today to understand how and why individuals move.
The objective of my thesis will be to study the impact of extrinsic (e.g. sea ice extent) and intrinsic (individual condition) factors on the foraging movements, and in particular the energy balance, of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) during the breeding season based on long-term population monitoring conducted on Petrel Island in Antarctica.
Supervisors: Yan Ropert Coudert and Frédéric Angelier
PhD student in the marine predator team (2022-2025)