The population biology component of the Antarctic 2.0°C project is organized in two phases:
The first one takes place within the framework of a second year master’s degree internship at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution from February to July 2021.
The second will be the field study during the Antarctique 2.0°C mission on the Antarctic Peninsula from January to February 2022.
In the southern region, penguin nesting sites are limited by the topographic features of the terrain and by intra- and interspecific competition. It is common to find breeding colonies on beaches and along the coast.
The current sea level rise (Frederikse et al. 2020) due to global warming could therefore lead to a loss of sites suitable for penguin nesting, forcing them to migrate. These migratory flows lead to a reorganisation of the division of territory between penguins of the same species or of different species, resulting in new selection pressures. Such events are already remarkable; today we observe movements of Papuan penguin populations towards the Antarctic Peninsula in response to global warming.
What could be the consequences of sea level rise on penguin breeding sites?
Our objective is to carry out for the first time a spatial and topographic analysis of the breeding habitat of penguin populations in relation to current sea level. This analysis will allow us to better anticipate the consequences of the sea level rise projected by scientists.
We will seek to create a Digital Elevation Model of the breeding sites of penguins of different species: we will evaluate the 3D surface occupied by the colonies, the altitude and topography of the nesting space, the tidal limits (high/low), ..... The lower limit of the glaciers will also be mapped. The overflight of colonies by UAVs will be done at a minimum height of 50m to limit the disturbance of colonies (Rümmler et al. 2018).
Once the nesting sites have been precisely mapped, we will analyze their topographic characteristics in order to anticipate the consequences of sea level rise on the loss of these nesting sites.
In collaboration with :
Céline Le Bohec - Centre scientifique de Monaco / Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien
Daniel Zitterbart - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Thank you to the partners who made this project feasible through their technical and material support and through their training: