Past & Present


Dr. Steve Emslie

Principal Investigator

UNCW Department of Biology and Marine Biology






Recent Publications

Below is a list of recent publications based on our research:

Zheng, Z., Wang, X., Jin, J., Hao, J., Nie, Y., Chen, X., Mou, J., Emslie, S. D., and Liu, X. 2022. Fraction distribution and dynamic cycling of phosphorus in lacustrine sediment at Inexpressible Island, Antarctica. Environment International 164: 107228,


McKenzie, A. C., A. M. Silvestro, L. J. Marti, and S. D. Emslie. 2021. Intraspecific variation in mercury, δ15N, and δ13C among three Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) populations in the northern Antarctic Peninsula region. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry:


Jin, J., X. Chen, L. Xu, Y. Nie, X. Wang, H. Huang, S. D. Emslie, and X. Liu. 2021. Chronology and paleoclimatic implications of lacustrine sediments at Inexpressible Island, Ross Sea, Antarctica. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 576:


Ciriani, Y., M. A. Juáres, M. Mercedes Santos, and S. D. Emslie. 2021.  Stable isotope analysis of Multiple tissues from chick carcasses of three pygoscelid penguins in Antarctica. Marine Ornithology 49: 9-17.


Emslie, S. 2020. Ancient Adélie penguin colony revealed by snowmelt at Cape Irizar, Ross Sea, Antarctica. Geology,


Emslie, S.D., M. Romero, M. Juáres, and M. Argota. 2019. Holocene occupation history of pygoscelid penguins at Stranger Point, King George (25 de Mayo) Island, northern Antarctic Peninsula. The Holocene.


Kristan, A. K., S. D. Emslie, and W. P. Patterson. 2019. Stable isotope analyses of ancient and modern Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) mummies from the Ross Sea region, Antarctica. Polar Biology 42: 1183-1192.


Emslie, S. D., Ashley McKenzie, and William P. Patterson. 2018.  The rise and fall of an ancient Adélie Penguin ‘supercolony’ at Cape Adare, Antarctica. Royal Society Open Science 5: 172032 (

Emslie, S. D., A. McKenzie, L. J. Marti, and M. Santos. 2017. Recent Occupation by Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) at Hope Bay and Seymour Island and the ‘Northern Enigma’ in the Antarctic Peninsula. Polar Biology DOI 10.1007/s00300-017-2170-8.

Wei, Yangyang, Yaguang Nie, Xin Chen, Jing Jin, Linbin Wu, Xiaodong Liu, and S. D. Emslie.  2016.  Sources of organic matter and paleo-environmental implications inferred from carbon isotope compositions of lacustrine sediments at Inexpressible Island, Ross Sea, Antarctica. Advances in Polar Research 27: 233-244.

Polito, M. J., R. L. Brasso, W. Z. Trivelpiece, N. Karnovsky, W. P. Patterson, and S. D. Emslie. 2016. Differing foraging strategies influence mercury (Hg) exposure in an Antarctic penguin community. Environmental Pollution 218: 196-206.

Nie, Y., L. Xu, X. Liu, and S. D. Emslie.  2016.  Radionuclides in ornithogenic sediments as evidence for recent warming in the Ross Sea region, Antarctica. Science of the Total Environment 557-558: 248-256.

Lou, C., X. Liu, W. Liu, L. Wu, Y. Nie, and S. D. Emslie.  2016.  Distribution patterns and possible influencing factors of As speciation in ornithogenic sediments from the Ross Sea region, East Antarctica. Science of the Total Environment 553: 466-473.

Nie, Y., L. Sun, X. Liu, and S. D. Emslie. 2015.  From warm to cold: the internal migration of Adélie penguins at Cape Bird, Ross Island.  Scientific Reports DOI:10.1038/srep11530.

Smykla, J., M. Drewnik, E. Szarek-Gwiazda, H. Yii Siang, W. Knap, and S. D. Emslie.  2015. Characteristics and development of soils in varying environments in the Edmondson Point area, northern Victoria Land, continental Antarctica.  Catena 132: 56-67.

Polito, M. J., W. Z. Trivelpiece, W. P. Patterson, N. J. Karnovsky, and S. D. Emslie. 2015. Contrasting patterns of specialization facilitate foraging niche partitioning in sympatric Pygoscelis penguins. Marine Ecology Progress Series 519: 221-237.

Emslie, S. D., M. J. Polito, R. Brasso, W. P. Patterson and L. Sun.  2014.  Ornithogenic soils and the paleoecology of pygoscelid penguins in Antarctica.  Quaternary International 352: 5-14.

Clucas, G. V., M. J. Dunn, G. Dyke, S. D. Emslie, R. Naveen, M. J. Polito, O. G. Pybus, A. D. Rogers, and T. Hart.  2014. A reversal of fortunes: climate change ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in Antarctic Peninsula penguins. Scientific Reports 4: 5024 | DOI: 10.1038/srep05024

Huang, Tao, L. Sun, Y. Wang, and S. D. Emslie. 2014. Paleodietary changes by penguins and seals in association with Antarctic climate and sea ice extent. Chinese Science Bulletin 59: 4456-4464.

Nie, Y., Xiaodong Liu, and Steven D. Emslie.  2014.  Distribution and sources of rare earth elements in ornithogenic sediments from the Ross Sea region, Antarctica. Microchemical Journal 114: 247-260.

Nie, Yaguang, Xiaodong Liu, Tao Wen, Liguang Sun, and S. D. Emslie. 2014.  Environmental implication of nitrogen isotopic composition in ornithogenic sediments from the Ross Sea region, East Antarctica:. Chemical Geology 363: 91-100.

Hu, Qi-Hou, Li-Guang Sun, Zhou-Qing Xie, S. D. Emslie, and Xiao-Dong Liu.  2013.  Increase in penguin populations during the Little Ice Age in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.  Scientific Reports 3: 2472; DOI 10.1038/srep02472.

Sun, L., S.D. Emslie, T. Huang, J.M. Blais, Z.Q. Xie, X.D. Liu, X.B. Yin, Y.H. Wang, W. Huang, D.A. Hodgson, and J.P. Smol.  2013. Vertebrate records in polar sediments: biological responses to past climate change and human activities. Earth-Science Reviews 126: 147-155.

Polito, M. J., C. S. Reiss, W. Z. Trivelpiece, W. P. Patterson, and S. D. Emslie. 2013. Stable isotopes identify an ontogenetic niche expansion in Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) from the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica.  Marine Biology 160: 1311-1323.

Liu, Xiaodong, Y. Nie, L. Sun, and S. D. Emslie.  2013.  Eco-environmental implications of elemental and carbon isotope distributions in ornithogenic sediments from the Ross Sea region, Antarctica.  Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 117: 99-114.

Emslie, S. D., M. J. Polito, and W. P. Patterson.  2013.  Stable isotope analysis of ancient and modern Gentoo Penguin egg membrane and the krill surplus hypothesis in Antarctica.  Antarctic Science 25: 213-218.

Brasso R.L., B.E. Drummond, S.R. Borrett, A. Chiaradia, M.J. Polito, and A. Raya Rey. 2013. Unique pattern of molt leads to low intra-individual variation in feather mercury concentrations in penguins. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 32: 2331-2334.

Brasso, R.L. and M.J. Polito.  2013.  Trophic calculations reveal the mechanism of population-level variation in mercury concentrations between marine ecosystems: case studies of two polar seabirds.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 75: 244-249.

Brasso, Rebecka L., Michael J. Polito, Heather J. Lynch, R. Naveen, and Steven D. Emslie.  2012.  Penguin eggshell membranes reflect homogeneity of mercury in the marine food web surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula. Science of the Total Environment 439: 165-171.

Brasso, R., S. Abel, and M. Polito.  2012.  Pattern of Hg allocation into egg components is independent of dietary exposure in Gentoo penguins.  Archives of Environmental Contamination: Toxicology 64: 494-501.

Nie, Y., Xiaodong Liu, Liguang Sun, and S. D. Emslie.  2012.  Effect of penguin and seal excrement on mercury distribution in sediments from the Ross Sea region, East Antarctica. Science of the Total Environment 433: 132-140.

Vasil, C. A., M. J. Polito, W. P. Patterson, and S. D. Emslie.  2012.  Wanted: dead or alive? Isotopic analysis (δ13C and δ15N) of Pygoscelis penguin chick tissues supports opportunistic sampling.  Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 26: 487-493.

Smykla, J., B. Krzewicka, K. Wilk, S. Emslie, and L.Śliwa.  2011. Additions to the lichen flora of Victoria Land, Antarctica. Polish Polar Research 32: 123-138. 

Polito, M. J., W. Z. Trivelpiece, N. J. Karnovsky, E. Ng, W. P. Patterson, and S. D. Emslie.  2011.  Integrating stomach content and stable isotope analyses to quantify the diets of pygoscelid penguins.  PLoSONE 6: 1-10.

Polito, M. J.3, S. Abel, C. R. Tobias, and S. D. Emslie.  2011.  Dietary isotopic discrimination in gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) feathers.  Polar Biology 24: 1057-1063.

Emslie, S.D., K. Baumann, and M. van Tuinen. 2011.  Late Holocene occupation of Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua) at Byers Peninsula, Livingston Island, Antarctica.  Polar Biology 34: 283-290.

Polito M.J., Lynch H.J., Naveen R., and Emslie S.D. 2011. Stable isotopes reveal regional heterogeneity in the pre-breeding distribution and diets of sympatrically breeding Pygoscelis penguins. Marine Ecology Progress Series 421: 265-277.

Polito M.J., Fisher S., Tobias C.R., and Emslie, S.D. 2009. Tissue-specific isotopic discrimination factors in gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) egg components: Implications for dietary reconstructions using stable isotopes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 372:106-112

Strickland M.E., Polito M.J., and Emslie, S.D. 2008. Spatial and seasonal variation in Adélie penguin diets as inferred from stable isotope analysis of eggshell. Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science, 124(3): 65-71

Emslie S. D. and W. P. Patterson.  2007.  Abrupt recent shift in d13C and d15N values in Adélie Penguin eggshell in Antarctica.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 11666-11669.

Emslie S. D., L. Coats, and K. Licht.  2007.  A 45000-year record of Adélie Penguins and climate change in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.  Geology 35: 61-64.

Emslie S. D. and E. J. Woehler.  2005.  A 9000-year record of Adélie Penguin occupation and diet in the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica.  Antarctic Science 17: 56-66.

Emslie S. D., P. A. Berkman, D. G. Ainley, L. Coats, and M. Polito.  2003.  Late-Holocene initiation of ice-free ecosystems in the southern Ross Sea, Antarctica.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 262: 19-25.

Polito M., S. D. Emslie, and W. Walker.  2002.  A 1000-yr record of Adélie penguin diet in the southern Ross Sea, Antarctica.  Antarctic Science 14: 337-332

For more publications follow the links below:

Dr. Steve Emslie's Publications

Mike Polito's Publications