Characterization of winter foraging locations of Adélie penguins along the Western Antarctic Peninsula, 2001–2002

Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
By: , and 

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Abstract

In accord with the hypotheses driving the Southern Ocean Global Ocean Ecosystems Dynamics (SO GLOBEC) program, we tested the hypothesis that the winter foraging ecology of a major top predator in waters off the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), the Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae), is constrained by oceanographic features related to the physiography of the region. This hypothesis grew from the supposition that breeding colonies in the WAP during summer are located adjacent to areas of complex bathymetry where circulation and upwelling processes appear to ensure predictable food resources. Therefore, we tested the additional hypothesis that these areas continue to contribute to the foraging strategy of this species throughout the non-breeding winter season. We used satellite telemetry data collected as part of the SO GLOBEC program during the austral winters of 2001 and 2002 to characterize individual penguin foraging locations in relation to bathymetry, sea ice variability within the pack ice, and wind velocity and divergence (as a proxy for potential areas with cracks and leads). We also explored differences between males and females in core foraging area overlap. Ocean depth was the most influential variable in the determination of foraging location, with most birds focusing their effort on shallow (<200 m) waters near land and on mixed-layer (200–500 m) waters near the edge of deep troughs. Within-ice variability and wind (as a proxy for potential areas with cracks and leads) were not found to be influential variables, which is likely because of the low resolution satellite imagery and model outputs that were available. Throughout the study period, all individuals maintained a core foraging area separated from other individuals with very little overlap. However, from a year with light sea ice to one with heavy ice cover (2001–2002), we observed an increase in the overlap of individual female foraging areas with those of other birds, likely due to restricted access to the water column, reduced prey abundance, or higher prey concentration. Male birds maintained separate core foraging areas with the same small amount of overlap, showing no difference in overlap between the years. While complex bathymetry was an important physical variable influencing the Adélie penguin's foraging, the analysis of sea ice data of a higher resolution than was available for this study may help elucidate the role of sea ice in affecting Adélie penguin winter foraging behavior within the pack ice.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Characterization of winter foraging locations of Adélie penguins along the Western Antarctic Peninsula, 2001–2002
Series title Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
DOI 10.1016/j.dsr2.2010.10.054
Volume 58
Issue 13-16
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 9 p.
First page 1710
Last page 1718
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N