Effects of food availability on fledging condition and post-fledging survival in king penguin chicks

Effects of summer food shortage on king penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus chicks were studied at South Georgia. Two cohorts were compared, fledging in the austral summers of 1992 (n = 32) and 1994 (n = 33) when availability of food was judged good and poor, respectively. The former cohort had a higher pre-fledging mean mass (12.78 kg vs ≤ 10.03 kg), fledged earlier (median 5 January vs 21 January), and a higher proportion was re-sighted within 2 years of fledging (28% vs 0%). Within 4 years, 47% of the former cohort had been re-sighted (i.e. post-fledge survival); in addition, one was observed at the Falkland Islands, and 22% had bred (i.e. recruitment) in their colony of origin. The re-sighted chicks of the 1992 cohort fledged earlier than those not re-sighted (median 24 December vs 10 January), but it remain unclear if they were heavier at fledging. All chicks in this study (n = 65) were marked with both transponders (subcutaneously implanted) and flipper bands (on one flipper), and no losses of any markings were found (controlled up to 4 years afterwards). Therefore, data on chick post-fledging survival and recruitment were not adjusted for losses of markings, as has been done in other studies.


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Authors: Olsson, Olof

1 August, 1997
Polar Biology / 18
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