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Intersexual differences in the diving behaviour of Imperial Cormorants

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Abstract

Intersexual differences in the foraging behaviour have been examined in several seabird species, especially those exhibiting sexual size dimorphism. We studied intersex behavioural differences in the Imperial Cormorant (Phalacrocorax atriceps), a size dimorphic seabird. Twenty adults (11 females and 9 males), breeding at Punta León (43°04′S; 64°2′W), Chubut, Argentina, were equipped with loggers to measure tri-axial acceleration and depth, to calculate the foraging trip time/activity budgets and diving behaviour. Both sexes had similar foraging trip durations, spending a similar proportion of the foraging time flying and floating on the sea surface. However, females spent more time underwater, executing more and shallower dives. Females also recovered more quickly than males from dives performed to depths of less than 30 m and spent more time foraging along the bottom at any depth than males. We conclude that if allometric effects affect the foraging behaviour of Imperial Cormorants, they only do so during diving because no differences were observed in the total amount of time sexes spent flying or foraging.

Zusammenfassung

Geschlechtsunterschiede bei der Nahrungsaufnahme wurden bereits für mehrere Seevögel beschrieben, besonders für solche mit geschlechtsabhängiger Körpergröße. Wir untersuchten geschlechtsspezifische Verhaltensunterschiede bei der Blauaugenscharbe, einem Seevogel mit geschlechtsbedingt unterschiedlicher Körpergröße. Achtundzwanzig adulte Tiere (11 Weibchen, 9 Männchen), die bei Punta León (43°04′S; 64°2′W), Chubut, Argentinien, brüteten, wurden mit Datenloggern zur Aufzeichnung ihrer drei-achsigen Beschleunigung und Tauchtiefe versehen, um ihre Zeit- und Aktivitäts-Budgets und ihr Tauchverhalten zu messen. Beide Geschlechter verbrachten etwa gleich viel Zeit bei ihren Ausflügen zur Nahrungssuche, mit in etwa auch gleich großen Zeit-Anteilen für Fliegen und Treiben auf dem Wasser. Aber die Weibchen verbrachten mehr Zeit unter Wasser bei häufigeren Tauchgängen in flacherem Wasser. Sie erholten sich auch rascher als die Männchen von Tauchgängen in Tiefen bis zu 30 Meter und verbrachten in jeder Tiefe mehr Zeit als die Männchen bei der Nahrungsaufnahme am Grund. Wir schließen hieraus, dass, wenn allometrische Effekte das Nahrungsaufnahme-Verhalten von Blauaugenscharben überhaupt beeinflussen, diese Einflüsse nur beim Tauchen auftreten, da in der Zeit, die fliegend oder für die Nahrungsaufnahme verbracht wurde, kein Geschlechtsunterschied festgestellt werden konnten.

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Acknowledgments

Research was funded by grants from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas de la República Argentina and Agencia de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica to F. Quintana and by a Rolex Award for Enterprise awarded to R. P. Wilson. We would like to thank the Organismo Provincial de Turismo for the permits to work in Punta León and the Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT-CONICET) for institutional support. A. Gómez Laich is supported by a PhD fellowship from CONICET.

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Correspondence to Agustina Gómez Laich.

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Communicated by P. H. Becker.

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Gómez Laich, A., Quintana, F., Shepard, E.L.C. et al. Intersexual differences in the diving behaviour of Imperial Cormorants. J Ornithol 153, 139–147 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-011-0714-1

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