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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 454:135-145 (2012)  -  DOI:

Differential advancement of breeding phenology in response to climate may alter staggered breeding among sympatric pygoscelid penguins

Heather J. Lynch1,4,*, William F. Fagan1, Ron Naveen2, Susan G. Trivelpiece3, Wayne Z. Trivelpiece3

1Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA
2Oceanites, Inc., Chevy Chase, Maryland 20825, USA
3Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division, NOAA/SWFSC, La Jolla, California 92038, USA
4Present address: Department of Ecology & Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA

ABSTRACT: Numerous studies link climate change with advancing breeding phenology in birds, but less frequently considered are the joint impacts on sympatrically breeding communities of birds. We used data on clutch initiation dates (CID) from 4 sites along the Western Antarctic Peninsula for 3 congeneric and sympatrically breeding penguin species (Adélie Pygoscelis adeliae, gentoo P. papua and chinstrap P. antarcticus) to understand what factors correlate with the phenology and synchrony of breeding and how these factors might change with the recent warming experienced in this region. We found that clutch initiation was most significantly correlated with October air temperatures such that all 3 species advanced clutch initiation to varying degrees in warmer years. Gentoo penguins were able to advance CID almost twice as much (3.2 d °C−1) as Adélie (1.7 d °C−1) and chinstrap penguins (1.8 d °C−1). Beyond the variation explained by mean October temperatures, there was an unexplained trend to earlier clutch initiation of 0.15 ± 0.05 d yr−1. Greater plasticity in gentoo breeding phenology compressed the mean interval between Adélie and gentoo breeding in warm years and this may increase competition for nesting space in mixed colonies. Our results suggest that differential responses in breeding phenology to changing temperatures represent an additional mechanism by which climate change may affect competitive interactions and, consequently, pygoscelid penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula.

KEY WORDS: Breeding phenology · Climate change · Pygoscelid · Breeding asynchrony · Adélie penguin · Chinstrap penguin · Gentoo penguin · Interannual variability

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Cite this article as: Lynch HJ, Fagan WF, Naveen R, Trivelpiece SG, Trivelpiece WZ (2012) Differential advancement of breeding phenology in response to climate may alter staggered breeding among sympatric pygoscelid penguins. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 454:135-145.

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