MEPS 401:279-289 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08447

Changes in the foraging dive behaviour and energetics of king penguins through summer and autumn: a month by month analysis

L. G. Halsey1,2,*, P. J. Butler2, A. Fahlman3, C. A. Bost4, Y. Handrich5

1School of Human and Life Sciences, Roehampton University, London SW15 4JD, UK
2School of Biosciences, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
3North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium, University of British Columbia Marine Mammal Research Unit, 2202 Main Hall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4
4Centre d’Etude Biologiques de Chizé-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Villiers en Bois, 79360 Beauvoir Sur Niort Cedex, France
5Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien (IPHC), UMR 7178 CNRS-ULP, Département Ecologie, Physiologie et Ethologie (DEPE), 23 rue Becquerel, 67087 Strasbourg Cedex 02, France

ABSTRACT: King penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus are known to change their diving behaviour in response to changes in both prey location and their breeding status through the early stages of the breeding cycle (austral summer and autumn). However, little information exists on whether and how these changes affect the energy expenditure of such behaviour. By deploying heart rate and hydrostatic pressure data loggers, we investigated detailed changes in the dive time budgeting of king penguins during foraging dives across the breeding season, in the same individuals, and the associated changes in estimated oxygen consumption during those dives. Maximum dive depth, duration, bottom duration, feeding events (indicated by wiggles) per dive and post-dive duration increased through the study period. While a foraging dive later in the breeding season was energetically more costly than a dive earlier in the season, the overall rate of energy expenditure did not change, nor did energy cost per unit prey capture. These findings indicate an ability of king penguins to adjust their foraging dive behaviours through the summer and autumn without affecting the energetic costs of diving to capture prey. Such plasticity may be necessary to compensate for changes both in prey location and abundance, and in the energy requirements of the chick over time.


KEY WORDS: Behavioural plasticity · Diving · Energy costs · Heart rate · Aptenodytes patagonicus · Seabirds


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Cite this article as: Halsey LG, Butler PJ, Fahlman A, Bost CA, Handrich Y (2010) Changes in the foraging dive behaviour and energetics of king penguins through summer and autumn: a month by month analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 401:279-289. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08447

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