Winter diet and foraging range of gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) from Kidney Cove, Falkland Islands
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The winter diet and foraging range of gentoo penguins, Pygoscelis papua, were studied at Kidney Cove, Falkland Islands. The mean wet mass of the 56 stomach-content samples collected from May to October was 32.7±47.4 g. The diet consisted generally of cephalopods, crustaceans and fish, as well as two other molluscs. Among the six cephalopod species identified, the commercially fished Patagonian squid, Loligo gahi, had the highest abundance and was also the main prey by reconstituted mass (53% of the total reconstituted mass). Lobster krill, Munida gregaria, one of five species of crustaceans, was the most abundant prey species by frequency of occurrence and by number (68% and 60%, respectively). Rock cod, Patagonotothen ramsayi, accounted for the majority of the fish diet with 34% of the total reconstituted mass. Most prey species identified in the winter diet were also abundant diet components during the breeding season. However, the known biology of the prey species and their rate of digestion indicated that, in winter, adults may forage further offshore than during the breeding season. This assumption was supported by the results obtained from two birds satellite-tracked during the study period. Both birds remained mainly in inshore waters and returned frequently ashore, but one penguin foraged up to 276 km from the coast. The differences in the foraging behaviour of the two birds were reflected in significant differences with regard to time spent underwater, distance travelled per day and calculated travelling speed. Furthermore, the progress of cohorts of L. gahi over the winter is consistent with results from life-cycle studies in this region and suggests that birds have been foraging in the feeding grounds of L. gahi.
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