Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 125–137 | Cite as

Diving characteristics of southern rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes c. chrysocome) in the southwest Atlantic

  • Klemens PützEmail author
  • Andrea Raya Rey
  • Nic Huin
  • Adrian Schiavini
  • Andrea Pütz
  • Bernhard H. Lüthi
Research Article


The diving behaviour of southern rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes c. chrysocome) was studied at two breeding sites in the Southwest Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and Staten Island, Argentina. Incubating and brooding birds were equipped with time-depth recorders to monitor their foraging activities. Rockhopper penguins from Staten Island started their breeding season about 3 weeks earlier than their conspecifics from the Falkland Islands. The foraging area used by incubating males from the Falkland Islands comprised about 150,000 km² to the northeast of the breeding site and was characterised by shelf and slope waters, whereas the foraging area of incubating males from Staten Island comprised 350,000 km² of oceanic waters to the southeast of the breeding site. A number of dive parameters were measured and compared between the four study groups: Incubating males and brooding females from the Falkland Islands, and incubating males and females from Staten Island. In all study groups, dive depth correlated positively to light intensity, dive duration and vertical velocity. However, significant differences between various diving parameters of the study groups were noted, not only in terms of diving performance, but also as regards diving efficiency (DE). A principal component analysis (PCA) on 16 variables revealed that 75% of the variance could be explained by only two principal components: diving pattern (PC1) and diving effort (PC2). PC1 indicated that the birds from Staten Island, both males and females, dived deeper, covered a greater vertical distance per hour and had higher ascent rates, but spent less time underwater and at the bottom of a dive, and had a lower DE than conspecifics from the Falkland Islands. PC2, which included the percentage of foraging dives, the number of dives per hour, dive duration, bottom time and descent rate, differed significantly between incubating males from the Falkland Islands and the other three groups, which were all very similar. Overall, the diving behaviour was notably similar to that of conspecifics from the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The implications of the results in terms of intra-specific adaptations as well as potential threats from human activities are discussed.


Breeding Site Falkland Island Diving Behaviour Dive Depth Dive Duration 
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This study would not have been possible without the tremendous support received by many different people and organisations. We are especially grateful to those who sponsored individual penguins: Torsten Bergander, Heinz Boksberger, Ulrich Borsari, Doris & Ueli Brennwald, Christa & Gerald Brunner, Raul Garcia, Otto Haab, Susanne Kambor, Dieter Krause, Gerog Krenger, Diana & Gerhard Müller, Carolyn & William Reller, Verena Sarbach, Susanne Schwenke, Peter Schneuwly, Peter Shattuck, Sharon Sittloh, Britta Staschen, Patricia Stone, Bill Underwood, Brigitte Vedder, Rosemarie Wachtler and Manfred Wildhage. Further financial support was provided by the National Geographic Society, USA. Logistical support during field work was provided by Falklands Conservation, Stanley, the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Ushuaia, and the Argentine Navy. Many thanks are also due to Lesley Baxter for language editing and to Glenda and Neil Watson for their hospitality and permission to work in the colony at Berkeley Sound, Falkland Islands. This study was approved by the Falkland Islands Government, the National Council of Scientific Research and the Natural Resources Agency of the province of Tierra del Fuego and complied with the legal requirements in the Falkland Islands and Argentina.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klemens Pütz
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  • Andrea Raya Rey
    • 2
  • Nic Huin
    • 3
  • Adrian Schiavini
    • 2
    • 4
  • Andrea Pütz
    • 1
  • Bernhard H. Lüthi
    • 5
  1. 1.Antarctic Research TrustStanleyFalkland Islands
  2. 2.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, CADICUshuaiaArgentina
  3. 3.Falklands ConservationStanleyFalkland Islands
  4. 4.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA
  5. 5.Antarctic Research Trust, c/o Zoo ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  6. 6.Am Oste-Hamme-Kanal 10BremervördeGermany

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