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Foraging behaviour and habitat selection of the little penguin Eudyptula minor during early chick rearing in Bass Strait, Australia

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posted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by Andrew Hoskins, P Dann, Y Ropert-Coudert, A Kato, A Chiaradia, D Costa, John ArnouldJohn Arnould
Knowledge of the foraging areas of top marine predators and the factors influencing them is central to understanding how their populations respond to environmental variability. While there is a large body of literature documenting the association of air-breathing marine vertebrates with areas of high marine productivity, there is relatively little information for species restricted to near-shore or continental-shelf areas. Differences in foraging range and diving behaviour of the little penguin Eudyptula minor were examined from 3 breeding colonies (Rabbit Island, Kanowna Island and Phillip Island) in central northern Bass Strait, southeast Australia, during the chick-guard stage using electronic tags (platform terminal transmitters, PTTs, and time-depth recorders, TDRs). Although there were large overall differences between individuals, the mean maximum foraging range (16.9 to 19.8 km) and mean total distance travelled (41.8 to 48.0 km) were similar between the 3 colonies, despite different bathymetric environments. Individuals from all 3 colonies selected foraging habitats within a narrow sea surface temperature (SST) range (16.0 to 16.4°C). While there were significant differences in mean dive depths (5.4 to 10.9 m) and mean durations (13.2 to 28.6 s) between the different colonies, the mean diving effort (vertical distance travelled: 936.3 to 964.3 m h–1) was similar. These findings suggest little penguins from the 3 colonies employ relatively similar foraging efforts yet are plastic in their foraging behaviours.

History

Journal

Marine ecology - progress series

Volume

366

Pagination

293 - 303

Publisher

Inter-Research

Location

Oldendorf, Germany

ISSN

0171-8630

eISSN

1616-1599

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2008, Inter-Research