Remote time-lapse cameras are being used to spy on the love-life of Adélie penguins in Antarctica.

A team of international scientists have used photos from cameras in penguin colonies to map out the breeding cycle of the birds.

The cameras take up to 12 pictures a day of the penguin nests over a year, showing when eggs are laid, when they hatch and if the chicks survive.

The study, published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution today, compared the automated camera results with observations on the ground and found the timing of breeding events correlated.

Penguins have long been considered indicators of the health of the Southern Ocean and data collected through this study will help better manage fisheries in the region.