Better late than never? Interannual and seasonal variability in breeding chronology of gentoo penguins at Stranger Point, Antarctica

  • Mariana A. Juáres Instituto Antártico Argentino / CONICET
  • M. Mercedes Santos Instituto Antártico Argentino
  • Javier Negrete Instituto Antártico Argentino / CONICET
  • M. Rita Santos Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Celular
  • Jorge A. Mennucci Instituto Antártico Argentino
  • Emilce Rombolá Instituto Antártico Argentino
  • Lucrecia Longarzo Instituto Antártico Argentino
  • Néstor R. Coria Instituto Antártico Argentino
  • Alejandro R. Carlini Instituto Antártico Argentino
Keywords: Antarctica, breeding delay, breeding phenology, snow, Pygoscelis papua, Euphausia superba

Abstract

Rapid climate change recorded in the western Antarctic Peninsula confronts species with less predictable conditions in the marine and terrestrial environments. We analysed the breeding chronology and nesting site selection of gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) at King George Island (Isla 25 de Mayo), Antarctica, during four seasons in which differences in snow presence and persistence on the ground were observed. We recorded an overall delay as well as seasonal asynchrony at the beginning of reproduction for those years with higher snow deposition. A redistribution of breeding groups was also observed. Nevertheless, the population breeding success and chicks’ weight at fledging remained relatively constant, despite the delay in breeding chronology, the increased duration of foraging trips during the guard stage and the decreased weight of stomach contents during the crèche stage. We suggest that the plasticity of their trophic biology, along with the flexibility of their breeding phenology and relocation of breeding groups, may be complementary reasons why gentoo penguin populations in the region have remained stable in spite of the changing conditions currently registered.

Keywords: Antarctica; breeding delay; breeding phenology; snow; Pygoscelis papua; Euphausia superba

(Published: 13 May 2013)

Citation: Polar Research 2013, 32, 18448, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v32i0.18448

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Author Biographies

Mariana A. Juáres, Instituto Antártico Argentino / CONICET
Departamento Biología de Predadores Tope
M. Mercedes Santos, Instituto Antártico Argentino
Departamento Biología de Predadores Tope
Javier Negrete, Instituto Antártico Argentino / CONICET
Departamento Biología de Predadores Tope
Jorge A. Mennucci, Instituto Antártico Argentino
Departamento Biología de Predadores Tope
Emilce Rombolá, Instituto Antártico Argentino
Departamento Biología de Predadores Tope
Lucrecia Longarzo, Instituto Antártico Argentino
Departamento Biología de Predadores Tope
Néstor R. Coria, Instituto Antártico Argentino
Departamento Biología de Predadores Tope
Alejandro R. Carlini, Instituto Antártico Argentino
Departamento Biología de Predadores Tope
Published
2013-05-13
How to Cite
Juáres, M., Santos, M., Negrete, J., Santos, M., Mennucci, J., Rombolá, E., Longarzo, L., Coria, N., & Carlini, A. (2013). Better late than never? Interannual and seasonal variability in breeding chronology of gentoo penguins at Stranger Point, Antarctica. Polar Research, 32. https://doi.org/10.3402/polar.v32i0.18448
Section
Research/review articles