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Benefits of group foraging depend on prey type in a small marine predator, the Little Penguin

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posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Grace Sutton, A Hoskins, John ArnouldJohn Arnould
Group foraging provides predators with advantages in over-powering prey larger than themselves or in aggregating small prey for efficient exploitation. For group-living predatory species, cooperative hunting strategies provide inclusive fitness benefits. However, for colonial-breeding predators, the benefit pay-offs of group foraging are less clear due to the potential for intra-specific competition. We used animal-borne cameras to determine the prey types, hunting strategies, and success of little penguins (Eudyptula minor), a small, colonial breeding air-breathing marine predator that has recently been shown to display extensive at-sea foraging associations with conspecifics. Regardless of prey type, little penguins had a higher probability of associating with conspecifics when hunting prey that were aggregated than when prey were solitary. In addition, success was greater when individuals hunted schooling rather than solitary prey. Surprisingly, however, success on schooling prey was similar or greater when individuals hunted on their own than when with conspecifics. These findings suggest individuals may be trading-off the energetic gains of solitary hunting for an increased probability of detecting prey within a spatially and temporally variable prey field by associating with conspecifics.

History

Journal

PLoS One

Volume

10

Issue

12

Season

Article Number : e0144297

Article number

e0144297

Pagination

1 - 10

Publisher

Public Library of Science (PLOS)

Location

San Francisco, Calif.

eISSN

1932-6203

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, Public Library of Science (PLOS)