Population trends, breeding success and diet composition of gentoo Pygoscelis papua, magellanic Spheniscus magellanicus and rockhopper Eudyptes chrysocome penguins in the Falkland Islands. A review
Data on population size, breeding success and diet composition of gentoo (Pygoscelis papua), magellanic (Spheniscus magellanicus) and rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome) penguins, collected as part of the Falkland Island Seabird Monitoring Programme from 1986/1987 to 1998/1999, were analysed with regard to spatial and temporal variation, as well as potential interaction with local commercial fisheries. No significant population trends were detectable, mainly because of the short time-series and large spatial and inter-annual variation in the number of breeding pairs in the colonies monitored. However, the breeding success of all three penguin species has improved slightly over the last few years, indicating a potential for increasing populations in the near future. During the breeding season, all three penguin species preyed opportunistically on a mixture of fish, squid and crustaceans. Diet composition too showed a high degree of spatial and temporal variation. However, in all three penguin species studied, squid gradually disappeared from the diet over successive years, to be replaced by fish. Coincidentally, the commercial catches of the squid species Loligo gahi in Falkland Islands waters decreased and the by-catch of nototheniid fish increased. All three penguin species compete directly with the commercial fishing fleet for L. gahi; however, there may also be competition for Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), hake (Merluccius sp.) and southern blue whiting (Micromesistius australis), because juveniles of these species were found regularly in penguin diets.
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