Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A penguin's tale: Diet linked to breeding failure

Date:
December 12, 2013
Source:
Monash University
Summary:
A study on a Victorian penguin colony has revealed new insight into the link between seabird diet and breeding success.

The little penguin.
Credit: torsakarin / Fotolia

A study on a Victorian penguin colony has revealed new insight into the link between seabird diet and breeding success.

In a study published in Functional Ecology, Nicole Kowalczyk and Associate Professor Richard Reina of Monash University's School of Biological Sciences, in collaboration with Andre Chiaradia from Phillip Island Nature Parks, studied Melbourne's St Kilda little penguin colony over two years.

They detailed how changes to prey abundance or food sources influenced reproductive success, tracking the penguins' nesting and feeding behaviour during the 2010 and 2011 breeding season.

Given previous data had shown that the colony fed mainly on anchovy which accounted for up to 78 per cent of their diet between years 2004 and 2008, the researchers predicted that changes in abundance would impact on the reproductive success of the colony -- but they were surprised to find the little penguins were resilient to changing conditions only if alternative prey such as sardines could be found.

Ms Kowalczyk said breeding failure in seabirds has been associated with declines in prey abundance, and the quality and diversity of prey -- but identifying which aspect of diet was responsible was challenging.

"The St Kilda little penguin colony has a short foraging range and displays narrow dietary diversity so this gave us the unique ability to identify how changes in food supply influence their reproduction," Ms Kowalczyk said.

"We found that a sharp decline of anchovy in 2010 had a negative impact on little penguin reproduction. However, in 2011, despite the relatively low anchovy abundance, their breeding success was extremely high.

"We believe the decrease of anchovy itself was not the only cause for low breeding success in 2010 but in combination with the scarcity of alternative prey. Our results show that little penguins are resilient to changes in their preferred prey but their ability to adapt to these changes is limited by the availability of alternative prey species."

Ms Kowalczyk said understanding seabird diet was integral to their conservation and management.

"Our results highlight that resource abundance and the availability of a variety of prey are critical factors in enabling this inshore seabird to adjust to changes in environmental conditions and fluctuations in their primary source of prey," Ms Kowalczyk said.

"Dietary changes have been linked to population declines and provide information about foraging conditions, particular prey species and foraging locations that require protection."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monash University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicole D. Kowalczyk, Andre Chiaradia, Tiana J. Preston, Richard D. Reina. Linking dietary shifts and reproductive failure in seabirds: a stable isotope approach. Functional Ecology, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12216

Cite This Page:

Monash University. "A penguin's tale: Diet linked to breeding failure." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212103351.htm>.
Monash University. (2013, December 12). A penguin's tale: Diet linked to breeding failure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212103351.htm
Monash University. "A penguin's tale: Diet linked to breeding failure." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131212103351.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins