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Habitat use and sex-specific foraging behaviour of Adélie penguins throughout the breeding season in Adélie Land, East Antarctica


Widmann, M and Kato, A and Raymond, B and Angelier, F and Arthur, B and Chastel, O and Pelle, M and Raclot, T and Ropert-Coudert, Y, Habitat use and sex-specific foraging behaviour of Adelie penguins throughout the breeding season in Adelie Land, East Antarctica, Movement Ecology, 3 Article 30. ISSN 2051-3933 (2015) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

© 2015 Widmann et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4)

DOI: doi:10.1186/s40462-015-0052-7



Marine predators are ecosystem sentinels because their foraging behaviour and reproductive success reflect the variability occurring in the lower trophic levels of the ecosystem. In an era of environmental change, monitoring top predators species can provide valuable insights into the zones of ecological importance that need to be protected. In this context, we monitored the Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) as a bio-indicator near Dumont d’Urville, an area of the East Antarctic sector currently being considered for the establishment of a Marine Protected Area (MPA), using GPS-based tracking tags during the 2012/13 austral summer breeding season.


The habitat use and foraging areas of the penguins differed by breeding stage and sex and were strongly associated with patterns in bathymetry and sea-ice distribution. The first trips, undertaken during the incubation phase, were longer than those during the guard phase and were associated with the northern limit of the sea-ice extent. During the guard phase, birds strongly depended on access to a polynya, a key feature in Antarctic marine ecosystem, in the vicinity of the colony. The opening of the ice-free area was synchronous with the hatching of chicks. Moreover, a sex-specific use of foraging habitat observed only after hatching suggests sex-specific differences in the diet in response to intra-specific competition.


Sea-ice features that could be affected by the climate change were important factors for the use of foraging habitat by the Adélie penguins. The extent of the foraging area observed in this study is congruent with the area of the proposed MPA. However, both penguin behavior and their environment should be monitored carefully.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Adélie penguin, Marine Protected Areas, bio-logging, foraging behaviour, sea-ice distribution, polynya, Adélie Land
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
UTAS Author:Raymond, B (Dr Ben Raymond)
UTAS Author:Arthur, B (Dr Benjamin Arthur)
ID Code:105963
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:29
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2016-01-21
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:161 View Download Statistics

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