Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Parental investment in eggs and its effect on nestling growth and survival in Magellanic Penguins

Melina Barrionuevo A C and Esteban Frere A B

A Centro de Investigaciones Puerto Deseado, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia Austral, CONICET, Avenida Prefectura s/n, cc 238, 9050, Puerto Deseado, Santa Cruz, Argentina.

B Wildlife Conservation Society, Amenabar 1595, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

C Corresponding author. Email: meliswahine@hotmail.com

Emu 114(3) 259-267 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU13067
Submitted: 28 July 2013  Accepted: 21 February 2014   Published: 10 July 2014

Abstract

Life-history variables evolve in response to cost–benefit trade-offs. For birds, larger eggs are thought to be beneficial for development of offspring but are energetically costly to produce. Further, egg-size dimorphism within or between clutches can vary with proximate and ultimate causes. We undertook a correlational study to evaluate parental investment in eggs by Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) and how it affects the growth and survival of nestlings in Puerto Deseado, Argentina, over 3 years. We evaluated the variables that affected egg-volume and yolk-area (using a non-destructive technique), and determined the effects of egg-volume and yolk-area on growth and survival of young. Females in good body-condition laid larger second eggs and, in good years (i.e. years of high reproductive success in the colonies of the study area), yolk-area of second eggs was larger than that of first eggs. We found a positive association between egg-volume and nestling body-size and yolk-area was positively related to nestling survival. Our results suggest that the size of eggs within clutches varied with year and female body-condition. Moreover we demonstrate for the first time that yolk-area is a strong predictor of nestling survival in Magellanic Penguins.


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