Marine Biology

, Volume 161, Issue 5, pp 1195–1206 | Cite as

Differences in diet composition and foraging patterns between sexes of the Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) during the non-breeding period as revealed by δ13C and δ15N values in feathers and bone

  • L. Silva
  • F. Saporit
  • D. Vales
  • M. Tavares
  • P. Gandini
  • E. A. Crespo
  • L. Cardona
Original Paper


In diving seabirds, sexual dimorphism in size often results in sex-related differences of foraging patterns. Previous research on Magellanic penguins, conducted during the breeding season, failed to reveal consistent differences between the sexes on foraging behavior, despite sexual dimorphism. In this paper, we tested the hypothesis that male and female Magellanic penguins differ in diet and foraging patterns during the non-breeding period when the constraints imposed by chick rearing activities vanish. We used stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen in feather and bone to characterize the diet and foraging patterns of male and female penguins in the South Atlantic at the beginning of the 2009–2010 and 2010–2011 post-breeding seasons (feathers) and over several consecutive breeding and migratory seasons (bone). The mean δ13C and δ15N values of feathers showed no differences between the sexes in any of the three regions considered or in the diet composition between the sexes from identical breeding regions; however, Bayesian ellipses showed a higher isotopic niche width in males at the beginning of the post-breeding season. Stable isotope ratios in bone revealed the enrichment of males with δ13C compared with females across the three regions considered. Furthermore, the Bayesian ellipses were larger for males and encompassed those of females in two of the three regions analyzed. These results suggest a differential use of winter resources between the sexes, with males typically showing a larger diversity of foraging/migratory strategies. The results also show that dietary differences between male and female Magellanic penguins may occur once the constraints imposed by chick rearing activities cease at the beginning of the post-breeding season.


Stable Isotope Analysis Stable Isotope Ratio Isotopic Niche Chick Rear Period Magellanic Penguin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was funded by Fundación BBVA through the project “Efectos de la explotación humana sobre depredadores apicales y la estructura de la red trófica del Mar Argentino durante los últimos 6.000 años” (BIOCON 08-194/09 2009-2011) and Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (PICT No. 2110). At the time, this manuscript was written, L. S. and D.V. were supported by a Doctoral Fellowship Program from the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas de la República Argentina (CONICET), and F.S. was supported by a Fellowship from Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Spain). We also thank the respective Conservation Agencies from the provinces of Rio Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Rio Grande do Sul for the permits to work and collect samples in their protected areas, and the Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT-CONICET) for institutional and logistical support. Finally, L.S. wants to thanks especially to the public and free education system of Argentina.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Silva
    • 1
  • F. Saporit
    • 2
  • D. Vales
    • 1
  • M. Tavares
    • 3
  • P. Gandini
    • 4
    • 5
  • E. A. Crespo
    • 1
  • L. Cardona
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Mamíferos MarinosCentro Nacional Patagónico (CONICET)Puerto MadrynArgentina
  2. 2.Departamento de Biología Animal Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat, Faculty of BiologyUniversidad de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Centro de Estudos Costeiros, Limnológicos e Marinhos, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (CECLIMAR/IB/UFRGS) e Grupo de Estudos de Mamíferos Aquáticos do Rio Grande do Sul (GEMARS)ImbéBrazil
  4. 4.Centro de Investigaciones de Puerto DeseadoUniversidad Nacional de la Patagonia Austral-Unidad Académica Caleta OliviaPuerto DeseadoArgentina
  5. 5.Wildlife Conservation SocietyConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)Puerto DeseadoArgentina

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