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MEPS prepress abstract   -  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 Lescroël*, Phil . O’B. Lyver, Dennis Jongsomjit, Sam Veloz, Katie M. Dugger, Peter Kappes, Brian J. Karl, Amy L. Whitehead, Roger Pech, Theresa L. Cole, Grant Ballard

*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 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 two-year 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.