Penguin monitoring

 “Penguin Lifelines” is a collaboration between ZSL and Oxford University researching the threats to Antarctic penguins. We are using long-term monitoring in the field and genetic analysis of penguin feathers to get a complete picture of how populations are changing. Our findings will be used to inform policy and educate the public on the impacts of climate change. 

Penguin Antarctica

Why we are there

Penguin populations are declining globally. The main suspects are climate change, fisheries, disease and pollution, but we need to understand how penguins are affected by these threats in order to mitigate them. Effective environmental policies, selected on the basis of up to date and relevant information, will be critical for the long-term conservation of penguins and their habitat.  

Key achievements and goals

By using new technology and working with tourism organisations we are accessing parts of this remote region that have never been monitored before. We have been using camera trapping to monitor the size and health of penguin population and to gain insight into environmental change in the Antarctic. We are also analysing feathers from Antarctic penguins to track the composition and health of their populations. The techniques are non-invasive and non-technical and can be used by volunteers, so we can monitor many penguins very cheaply! We aim to present the results of our conservation research to policy decision makers, providing sound science for sound decision making.


Project information

Key species

  • King, Emperor, Gentoo, Chinstrap, and Adelie Penguins

Habitat: Antarctic coasts

Main threats: Climate change and fisheries

People involved

Tom Hart is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oxford. He is working with Al Davies from ZSL’s conservation programs, who has been developing a satellite-linked camera to monitor  remote, hostile regions.

Partners and sponsors

  • Quark Expeditions Ltd
  • Exodus Travel
  • British Antarctic Survey
  • Oxford University
  • Antarctic Heritage Trust


Penguin lifelines blog