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Help us count penguins at Penguin Watch!

My research centres around how to monitor penguins and other marine predators in difficult environments such as Antarctica, through the Penguin Lifelines and Penguin Watch projects. Many of the most important environments on the planet are too data deficient to understand global change and to permit effective management. I spend a lot of time developing tools and techniques to scale up monitoring and data gathering from these environments and I am lucky enough to visit some remote places around the Southern Ocean – if you need samples that I can collect, please get in touch.

Cameras, counts and citizen science.

Monitoring animals in such an extreme climate is challenging.  Many species spend much of their time at sea, and the environment they live in is both hostile and remote, making the visits required to monitor them, demanding and costly. For these reasons, the monitoring efforts for many penguin colonies in Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic islands have to date, been limited.  However, by adapting existing camera technology and using time-lapse photography, we have established a new camera monitoring network for the Southern Ocean and beyond.  By monitoring remotely, we hope to be able to ask new questions about the response of Antarctic penguins to their changing world. Caitlin Black is currently analyzing images on Pygoscelid penguins for her PhD.
By collaborating with tourist operators such as Quark Expeditions, Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris and some truly world-leading logistics operators like Golden Fleece Expeditions and ALE/ANI we are reaching and monitoring many more sites around the Southern Ocean than has been possible until now. We work very closely with Oceanites‘ Antarctic Site Inventory, the Lynch Lab at Stony Brook and with Stephanie Jenouvrier at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I also work with the Zoological Society of London on the next generation of cameras and with the Zooniverse team on citizen science. We now have millions of images that we are working our way through. You can help! Visit Penguin Watch to help us count penguins.

Population structure, demography and disease.

I am carrying out population genetic and phylogeographic studies of penguins around Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic, increasingly through genomic approaches. The main driver on this project is Gemma Clucas; a PhD student in Southampton and also Jane Younger (previously at IMAS and the Australian Antarctic Division).  The aim of this project is to see how different species of penguin populations are structured around the Southern Ocean and how these populations have changed in the past in response to changing ice conditions. The aim is to define biologically meaningful management units for policy makers and to help identify where best to place protected areas. There are many collaborators for this work, but primarily Mike Polito at LSU, Karen Miller at AIMS, several people from the Australian Antarctic Division and Chize. Hila Levy is investigating penguin diseases using faecal samples ; for more information, visit the Antarctic page.