Analyzing Climate Impacts on Current & Future Antarctic Penguin Populations
As global climate change continues to intensify worldwide, important indicator species, such as penguins, have been greatly affected in their ability to adapt and maintain population numbers long-term. It is unclear how pervasive these effects will be in the future, given that much of climate change is anthropogenic, and human activity can greatly vary in the future. This thesis aims to quantitatively break down historical trends based on species differences and their specific correlations to sea ice extent and temperature changes. Data from the Mapping Application for Penguin Populations and Projected Dynamics (MAPPPD) was taken to track Adélie, Chinstrap, Gentoo, and Emperor penguin populations on shared research sites from 1979 to 2018. It was determined that during this period in the analyzed regions, Adélie, Chinstrap, and Emperor penguins have declined by approximately 88.70%, 96.20%, and 9.59% respectively, while Gentoos have increased by about 43.66%. These trends were then plotted on maps using ArcGIS to provide a visualization of the population shifts. Next, climate data for Antarctic temperature anomalies and sea ice extent was taken across the same time frame. Finally, a linear regression analysis was performed and a Pearson correlation coefficient was calculated to quantify the association between these climate factors and the trends shown. It was determined that there is a statistically significant relationship between sea ice extent and Adélie penguins, as well as a statistically significant relationship between temperature anomalies and Adélies and Chinstraps.