Habitat use and diving behaviour of macaroni Eudyptes chrysolophus and eastern rockhopper E. chrysocome filholi penguins during the critical pre-moult period
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After the breeding season, penguins must replenish body condition and accumulate sufficient energy stores before their annual moult ashore; failure to do so may lead to starvation. Knowing where and how adult penguins find adequate resources during this energy-intensive stage is vital to understanding their susceptibility to ecosystem changes. GPS and TDR loggers were used to track movements and record diving behaviour of macaroni Eudyptes chrysolophus and eastern rockhopper E. chrysocome filholi penguins from Marion Island (46°S, 37°E) during the pre-moult foraging trip in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Both species consistently travelled in a southerly direction to forage in cooler (~3.5 °C) Antarctic Zone waters south of the Antarctic Polar Front where they associated with mesoscale eddies and sub-mesoscale filaments. Dives were predominantly to depths of 30 to 60 m, but macaroni penguins dived deeper more often. Mean trip durations of both species were similar (33 ± 6 days), but maximum foraging ranges of macaroni penguins (903 ± 165 km) were greater than eastern rockhopper penguins (696 ± 152 km). Spatial overlap of core foraging areas between species was high, but a 2- to 3-week difference in departure dates reduced potential interspecific competition at sea. Trip durations were longer in 2014 compared to 2013, when decreased productivity may have reduced prey availability, forcing penguins to remain longer at sea. Continued monitoring is vital to understand how crested penguins at Marion Island adapt to the predicted southward shift of major frontal boundaries.
KeywordsTravel Speed Trip Duration Diving Behaviour Dive Depth Eddy Kinetic Energy
We thank Maëlle Connan, Ben Dilley, Delia Davies, Stefan Schoombie and Kim Stevens for assistance with fieldwork; Francis Crenner, Matthieu Brucker, Nicolas Chatelain for customising loggers; Pierre Pistorius for providing additional TDR loggers; and Maëlle Connan and three anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. The South African National Antarctic Programme provided funding and logistical support; additional funding was provided by the SA Department of Science and Technology, National Research Foundation, University of Cape Town and World Wide Fund for Nature, Australia.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Faculty of Science Animal Ethics Committee (SFAEC), University of Cape Town (2013/V5/NEW).
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