Energetics of Breeding Dark-Rumped Petrels

  • T. R. Simons
  • G. C. Whittow


The Dark-rumped Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia sandwichensis) is an endangered gadfly petrel that nests in the Hawaiian Islands and ranges throughout the central Pacific. The species was once common in Hawaii with large colonies on all of the main islands, but its numbers have recently been reduced to several small relict populations. Over 85% of the estimated 450 breeding pairs known today nest in and around Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui, the site of a three-year study begun in 1979 (Simons 1983). Like most Procellariiformes, the Dark-rumped Petrel exploits what is generally assumed to be a widely dispersed and unpredictable food resource (Lack, 1967; 1968). This food resource is thought to place important energetic constraints on these birds, and we wanted to examine how those constraints might have shaped the petrel’s breeding biology. In addition these birds breed at an elevation of almost 3000 m in one of the highest seabird nesting colonies in the world. We have described the adaptations of the Dark-rumped Petrel’s egg to high altitude nesting elsewhere (Whittow et al., 1983). In this paper we shall examine several aspects of the energetics of reproduction. Apart from a study of the much smaller Leach’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) (Ricklefs et al., 1980a), the energetics of reproduction in these birds has received little attention.


Adult Bird Common Tern Giant Petrel Storm Petrel Sooty Tern 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. R. Simons
    • 1
  • G. C. Whittow
    • 2
  1. 1.Wildlife Science Group, College of Forest ResourcesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physiology, John A. Burns School of Medicine and P.B.R.C. Kewalo Marine LaboratoryUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

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