Diving behavior of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) at Punta Tombo, Argentina

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Geographic and temporal variability in the marine environment affects seabirds' ability to find food. Similarly, an individual's body size or condition may influence their ability to capture prey. We examined the diving behavior of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) at Punta Tombo, Argentina, as an indicator of variation in foraging ability. We studied how body size affected diving capability and how diving varies among years and within breeding seasons. We also compared diving patterns of Magellanic penguins at Punta Tombo with those of birds in two colonies at the opposite end of the species' breeding range. Larger penguins tended to dive deeper and for longer than smaller birds. Trips were longer during incubation and in the years and colonies with lower reproductive success, which suggests that in those instances birds were working hard to recover body condition and feed chicks. Average dive depths, average dive durations, and percentages of time spent diving were always similar. We found that the only parameter these penguins consistently modified while foraging was the length of their foraging trip, which suggests that penguins at Punta Tombo were diving at maximum rates to find their preferred prey. Increasing trip length, we suggest, is a physiologically conservative solution for increasing the likelihood of encountering prey.


Copyright 2003 Copyright National Research Council of Canada

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Canadian Journal of Zoology

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Walker, B. G., & Boersma, P. D. (2003). Diving behavior of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) at Punta Tombo, Argentina. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 81(9), 1471-1483. doi:10.1139/z03-142.