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MAPPPD: Mapping Application for Penguin Populations and Projected Dynamics

The Mapping Application for Penguin Populations and Projected Dynamics (MAPPPD; is an open access decision-support tool designed for use by all Antarctic stakeholders. This system uses modern web based technologies to deliver consistent and verifiable population data for the four most widespread penguin species in the Antarctic (emperor, Aptenodytes forsteri; gentoo, Pygoscelis papua; chinstrap, Pygoscelis antarctica; and Adélie, Pygoscelis adeliae). MAPPPD serves two primary functions: (1) as a means by which data on the distribution and abundance of penguin species can be submitted, vetted and stored in the public record; (2) as a tool for searching the existing state of knowledge on Antarctic penguin abundance and distribution, and estimating abundance at sites or aggregated abundance across larger areas of interest. Users, by way of an interactive map, can select sites by drawing polygons, clicking on sites, or uploading ESRI shapefiles. The front-end application then pulls up all relevant information for those sites and can be viewed and downloaded freely. Furthermore, estimates of the numbers of nests for each species in the query regions are made by way of a sophisticated population model.
The MAPPPD project has had several research goals. The first was to automate the interpretation of high- and medium-resolution satellite imagery for estimating the abundance and distribution of penguins in Antarctica. Another piece of research to come from MAPPPD involves the creation of a sophisticated population model integrated into the front end of the web application. This work is currently being published and describes the difficulty of measuring and predicting changes in populations in complex ecosystems. Finally, MAPPPD data has been used in running a data science competition; the first ever to use ecological time series data. Winners provided their code and model output and will eventually be integrated into MAPPPD.
Heather Lynch
The work was funded by NASA Award NNX14AC32G
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