Polar Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 1031–1039 | Cite as

Heat loss and site-dependent fecundity in chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica)

  • Miguel FerrerEmail author
  • Josabel Belliure
  • Eduardo Minguez
  • Eva Casado
  • Keith Bildstein
Original Paper


We study the effects of heat loss and nest site quality on fecundity in a chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica) colony on Deception Island, Antarctica. During the austral summers of 1990–1991, 1993–1994, and 1995–1996, 441 randomly selected nests were analyzed. Penguins breeding in the center of subcolonies hatched significantly earlier and had larger broods and than those nesting near or at the edge of the subcolonies. These differences, however, were significantly affected by interaction between year and nest location, being highly significant in colder years, when peripheral nests produce fewer young. Analysis of the rate of heat loss showed that penguins breeding at the edge of subcolonies lost heat twice as rapidly as those breeding in the interior of the subcolony. In a re-occupation experiment, evacuated center nests were re-occupied almost ten times as rapidly as edge nests. An analysis of mean fecundity in the period 1991–1996 and mean wind chill suggested that most of the variability in fecundity among years was related to differences in the rate of heat loss. Subcolonies tend to be as circular as possible, thereby decreasing the proportion of edge nests as the size of subcolony increases. Our results support the site-dependent fecundity hypothesis.


Pygoscelis antarctica Site dependent fecundity Wind-chill Nest location Nest selection 



The present study was supported by grant ANT91-1264 from the Spanish C.I.C.Y.T. (Plan Nacional Antártico). We gratefully acknowledge the Spanish Navy vessel “Hesperides” for transport to and from Deception Island, the Spanish Army Base “Gabriel de Castilla” and the personnel at Argentine Base for their hospitality and logistic support. Three anonymous referees greatly improved the firsts versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel Ferrer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Josabel Belliure
    • 2
  • Eduardo Minguez
    • 3
  • Eva Casado
    • 4
  • Keith Bildstein
    • 5
  1. 1.Estación Biológica de DoñanaCSICSevilla, Isla de la CartujaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de EcologíaUniversidad de AlcaláAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  3. 3.Parque Natural Serra Gelada y Entorno LitoralBenidormSpain
  4. 4.Fundación Migres, Inca GarcilasoSevilla, Isla de la CartujaSpain
  5. 5.Acopian Center for Conservation LearningHawk Mountain SanctuaryOrwigsburgUSA

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