The role of allochrony in influencing interspecific differences in foraging distribution during the non-breeding season between two congeneric crested penguin species

Mechanisms promoting coexistence between closely related species are fundamental for maintaining species diversity. Mechanisms of niche differentiation include allochrony which offsets the peak timing of resource utilisation between species. Many studies focus on spatial and temporal niche partitioning during the breeding season, few have investigated the role allochrony plays in influencing interspecific segregation of foraging distribution and ecology between congeneric species during the non-breeding season. We investigated the non-breeding migrations of Snares (Eudyptes robustus) and Fiordland penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), closely related species breeding between 100–350 km apart whose migration phenology differs by two months. Using light geolocation tracking, we examined the degree of overlap given the observed allochrony and a hypothetical scenario where the species commence migration simultaneously. We found that Fiordland penguins migrated to the Sub-Antarctic Frontal Zone and Polar Frontal Zone in the austral autumn whereas Snares penguins disperse westwards staying north of the Sub-Tropical Front in the austral winter. Our results suggest that allochrony is likely to be at the root of segregation because the relative profitability of the different water masses that the penguins forage in changes seasonally which results in the two species utilising different areas over their core non-breeding periods. Furthermore, allochrony reduces relatively higher levels of spatiotemporal overlap during the departure and arrival periods, when the close proximity of the two species’ colonies would cause the birds to congregate in similar areas, resulting in high interspecific competition just before the breeding season. Available evidence from other studies suggests that the shift in phenology between these species has arisen from adaptive radiation and phenological matching to the seasonality of local resource availability during the breeding season and reduced competitive overlap over the non-breeding season is likely to be an incidental outcome.


Publication status:
Authors: Green, Cara-Paige, Ratcliffe, Norman ORCIDORCID record for Norman Ratcliffe, Mattern, Thomas, Thompson, David, Lea, Mary-Anne, Wotherspoon, Simon, Borboroglu, Pablo Garcia, Ellenberg, Ursula, Morrison, Kyle W., Pütz, Klemens, Sagar, Paul M., Seddon, Philip J., Torres, Leigh G., Hindell, Mark A.

On this site: Norman Ratcliffe
9 February, 2022
22pp / e0262901
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