Polar Biology

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 587–590 | Cite as

Nocturnal predation of king penguins by giant petrels on the Crozet Islands

  • Céline Le BohecEmail author
  • Michel Gauthier-Clerc
  • Jean-Paul Gendner
  • Nicolas Chatelain
  • Yvon Le Maho
Original Paper


Dietary segregation of sympatric seabirds in the Southern Ocean is partly linked to differences in their foraging techniques. We have investigated the activity of giant petrels (Macronectes spp.) in a king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) colony day and night during the austral winter of 2001 on the Crozet Islands. Using an automatic identification system and an infrared video camera, we followed 15 petrels tagged with micro transponders. Our data show that giant petrels predate king penguin chicks during the night. The activity of giant petrels is even slightly higher during nighttime than during the day. In addition, our data show a higher nocturnal activity by northern giant petrels (M. halli) than by southern giant petrels (M. giganteus). These unexpected results raise questions concerning visual adaptations to nocturnal foraging in giant petrels and their potential impact on the sleep, vigilance and crèching behavior of penguin chicks.


Austral Winter Automatic Identification System King Penguin Giant Petrel Penguin Coloni 
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 study was supported by the Institut Polaire Français—Paul-Emile Victor (Programme 137) and by the project Zones Ateliers of the Programme Environnement Vie et Société of the CNRS. The program received the agreement of the ethical committee of the French Polar Institute. We thank C. Salmon for his help in preparing software for the data set analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Céline Le Bohec
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michel Gauthier-Clerc
    • 1
  • Jean-Paul Gendner
    • 1
  • Nicolas Chatelain
    • 1
  • Yvon Le Maho
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre d'Écologie et Physiologie Energétiques—CNRS StrasbourgFrance

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