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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 636:189-205 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13208

Inter-individual differences in the foraging behavior of breeding Adélie penguins are driven by individual quality and sex

Amelie Lescroël1,*, Phil O’B. Lyver2, Dennis Jongsomjit1, Sam Veloz1, Katie M. Dugger3, Peter Kappes4, Brian J. Karl2, Amy L. Whitehead5, Roger Pech2, Theresa L. Cole2,6, Grant Ballard1

1Point Blue Conservation Science, 3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954, USA
2Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, PO Box 69040, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
3US Geological Survey, Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
4Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
5National Institute for Water and Atmosphere, PO Box 8602, Christchurch 8440, New Zealand
6Department of Zoology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Inter-individual differences in demographic traits of iteroparous species can arise through learning and maturation, as well as from permanent differences in individual ‘quality’ and sex-specific constraints. As the ability to acquire energy determines the resources an individual can allocate to reproduction and self-maintenance, foraging behavior is a key trait to study to better understand the mechanisms underlying these differences. So far, most seabird studies have focused on the effect of maturation and learning processes on foraging performance, while only a few have included measures of individual quality. Here, we investigated the effects of age, breeding experience, sex, and individual breeding quality on the foraging behavior and location of 83 known-age Adélie penguins at Cape Bird, Ross Sea, Antarctica. Over a 2 yr period, we showed that (1) high-quality birds dived deeper than lower quality ones, apparently catching a higher number of prey per dive and targeting different foraging locations; (2) females performed longer foraging trips and a higher number of dives compared to males; (3) there were no significant age-related differences in foraging behavior; and (4) breeding experience had a weak influence on foraging behavior. We suggest that high-quality individuals have higher physiological ability, enabling them to dive deeper and forage more effectively. Further inquiry should focus on determining the physiological differences among penguins of different quality.


KEY WORDS: Ross Sea · Breeding performance · Satellite telemetry · Foraging locations · Diving behavior · Age variation · Breeding experience · Seabirds


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Cite this article as: Lescroël A, Lyver PO’B, Jongsomjit D, Veloz S and others (2020) Inter-individual differences in the foraging behavior of breeding Adélie penguins are driven by individual quality and sex. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 636:189-205. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13208

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