Research Areas and Sub-Specialties
Antarctic Penguins and Climate Change
This program focuses on how climate change has impacted population movements and diet of penguins in Antarctica over hundreds to thousands of years by recovering data from abandoned and active colonies. Excavations at penguin colonies are conducted similar to archaeological digs and recover well-preserved bones and dietary remains of penguins that can be subjected to various analyses. After identification, radiocarbon dating is applied to determine the age of the remains and the occupation history of the colonies from which they were recovered. Dietary remains are quantified by taxonomic categories to assess shifts in diet over time and if these shifts are correlated with episodes of climate change. New investigations of isotopic data (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen) from penguin bones and eggshell, initiated in 2003, are providing new information on penguin foraging ecology and paleoecology. Research in this program occurs every year from December through February and necessitates that students register only for thesis credit or individual studies in the spring semester.
Faculty researching this area include: