Effects of diet and provisioning behavior on chick growth in Adelie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae)


Jennings, S., K. M. Dugger, G. Ballard, D. G. Ainley, ,

Publication Date:
Dec 2021

When provisioning chicks, parents trade-off their time, energy, and other resources to maximize reproductive success. As parents adjust investment to maximize their fitness, impacts on offspring growth can occur. We investigated provisioning and chick growth of Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) at one of the largest colonies (∼175,000 pairs), during one year of normal chick growth and survival and in a year which, by chance, was characterized by low chick growth and survival (“difficult” year). We measured daily average amount and quality of food delivered, as well as foraging-trip duration, and compared them to chick mass and skeletal growth during two years of contrasting conditions. We used mixed-effects models to test the prediction that increased parental investment would lead to increased growth rates, while accounting for confounding effects. There was no evidence of an effect of parent age. All provisioning measures predicted growth of at least one morphological character but, especially during the year of normal reproductive success, no provisioning measure strongly predicted growth across most morphological characters. However, during the difficult year parental investment positively affected growth rates, especially for males that were fed relatively more fish. The observed variation in growth rates between males and females, and between years of contrasting apparent resource availability, was large enough to lead to size differences that may subsequently affect post-fledging survival and ultimately population processes.

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Type of Document:

Journal Article

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Jennings, S., K. M. Dugger, D. G. Ainley, and G. Ballard. 2021. Effects of Diet and Provisioning Behavior on Chick Growth in Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). Waterbirds 44:55–67.