CIE Spotlight: Winter foraging site fidelity of king penguins breeding at the Falkland Islands

Alastair B.TitleWinter foraging site fidelity of king penguins breeding at the Falkland Islands.

AuthorsBaylis, Alastair M. M.; Orben, Rachael A.; Pistorius, Pierre; Brickle,
Paul; Staniland, Iain; Ratcliffe, Norman.

Source: MARINE BIOLOGY, 162 (1):99-110, JAN 2015.

Brief summary of the paper: Foraging site fidelity has profound consequences for individual fitness, population processes and the effectiveness of species conservation measures. Accordingly, quantifying site fidelity has become increasingly important in animal movement and habitat selection studies.

To assess foraging site fidelity in king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) breeding at the Falkland Islands (51.48°S, 57.83°W), we measured overlap in time spent in foraging areas (at a 0.1° × 0.1° grid resolution) between successive foraging trips and foraging route consistency during the crèche period.

In total, 30 complete foraging trips from seven king penguins were recorded between April and October 2010.

King penguins predominantly foraged on the highly productive Patagonian slope, to the north of the Falkland Islands [median foraging trip distance 213 km (SD = 215 km) and duration 12.8 days (SD = 14.7 days)]. Overlap in time spent in an area on consecutive foraging trips ranged between 2 and 73 % (mean 27 %, SD = 22 %).

Bearing during the outbound portion of foraging trips was typically highly repeatable for individual birds, but foraging trip duration and distance were not. Travel during the outbound phase of foraging trips was consistent with the direction of the northward-flowing Falkland Current that may act as a directional cue or facilitate rapid transit to foraging areas.

Flexibility in foraging trip distances and durations may be a response to changes in resource availability and changes in the energetic requirements of adults and chicks over an extended breeding cycle.