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Post-breeding dispersal of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) nesting at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands

By M. J. Dunn, J.R.D. Silk and P.N. Trathan

Abstract

ARGOS satellite telemetry and Global Location Sensors (geolocators) were used to identify the moult locations and the winter foraging dispersal of Adélie penguins after they left their breeding colonies on Signy Island in the South Orkney Islands. Animals were tracked during the period December 2004 to October 2005. All birds displayed a similar pattern of migratory behaviour, remaining away from colonies for approximately 9 months, at distances of up to 2,235 km. Moult locations were within the pack ice. Mean daily travel speeds to the moult locations were significantly faster when moving through open water than through pack ice. Moult occurred during February/March within a narrow latitudinal range (65–71°S), at a mean distance of 126 km from the ice edge; the mean duration of individual moult was c. 18.6 days. After moult, penguins spent the subsequent winter months moving north or north-eastward within the expanding winter pack ice, at a mean distance of 216 km from the ice edge, and in areas with ice cover >80%. The penguins returned to the vicinity of their colony between September 26 and October 22, 2005. This dependence of Adélie penguins on sea ice habitat suggests that any further reductions in sea ice extent in the Weddell Sea region would potentially have important impacts on the population processes of this pagophilic species

Topics: Marine Sciences, Zoology, Ecology and Environment
Publisher: Springer
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s00300-010-0870-4
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:10836
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