Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Sexual differences in the foraging behaviour of Magellanic Penguins related to stage of breeding

Andrea Raya Rey A E , Klemens Pütz B , Gabriela Scioscia A , Benno Lüthi C and Adrián Schiavini A D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, CADIC, Bernardo Houssay 200, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

B Antarctic Research Trust, Am Oste-Hamme-Kanal 10, D-27432 Bremervoerde, Germany.

C Antarctic Research Trust, c/o Zoo Zürich, Zürichbergstrasse 221, CH-8044 Zürich, Switzerland.

D Wildlife Conservation Society, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York, NY 10460, USA.

E Corresponding author. Email: arayarey@cadic-conicet.gob.ar

Emu 112(2) 90-96 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU11065
Submitted: 12 August 2011  Accepted: 23 November 2011   Published: 23 April 2012

Abstract

Understanding the foraging behaviour of seabirds and its plasticity is vital to establish their role in marine food webs and their use as indicators of change in the availability of prey. The foraging behaviour of penguins is known to differ with locality, sex, stage of breeding and between years. We studied the diving behaviour of breeding Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus), using time-depth recorders, during incubation and brooding in the 2003–04 and 2004–05 breeding seasons at Isla Martillo, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Foraging trips during the incubation period were longer than those during the brooding period for both sexes in both years of the study. Sex-related differences in foraging behaviour were observed during the incubation stage. During the incubation stage females performed longer foraging trips than males, foraging effort was lower, and did not dive as deep as males in both years. Foraging success was lower for females than males during incubation only in 2003. Our results suggest that sexual differences, expressed as differences in the foraging parameters of males and females, only develop when Fuegian Sprat (Sprattus fuegensis), the main prey in this locality, is not abundant close to the colony. Females may be extending the volume of water they can exploit by extending the duration of trips (horizontal distance), whereas males do so by diving deeper (vertical distance). Our results show the fundamental differences in foraging strategies between the sexes in Magellanic Penguin are a consequence of environmental conditions not morphological differences between sexes.

Additional keywords: Beagle Channel, diving behaviour, foraging ecology, foraging strategies, seabirds, sexual dimorphism, Tierra del Fuego.


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