Cowes, Australia
Cowes, Australia

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Minton C.,165 Dalgetty Rd | Gosbell K.,17 Banksia Court | Johns P.,7 King St | Klaassen M.,Deakin University | And 4 more authors.
Wader Study Group Bulletin | Year: 2011

In 2010, following successful trials with geolocators on Ruddy Turnstones in 2009, a total of 105 units, of four different models, were deployed at five locations on Ruddy Turnstones and Greater Sandplovers. Geolocator retrieval rates were 44% on Ruddy Turnstone and 27% on Greater Sandplover. Complete (59%) and partial (15%) technical failure rates on geolocators were high and were mostly the result of wear and saltwater corrosion. All 30 units from the Swiss Ornithological Institute failed. Only half of the Mk10 and Mk12 units from the British Antarctic Survey produced full migration histories. The northward migration of Ruddy Turnstones was on a narrow path with many birds completing an initial non-stop flight of 7,600 km to Taiwan. Later, most made a stopover in the Yellow Sea. Median migration duration was 39.5 days and average migration speed of the first major leg of the journey (assuming the birds followed the great circle route between stopovers) was 63.4 kph. Southward migration paths showed a much wider spread, ranging from Mongolia to the central Pacific. The latter involved the same bird that had been tracked along this route the previous year. It has now been logged on similar 27,000 km round trips in two successive years. The median duration of southward migration (78 days) was nearly twice that of northward migration and data on average migration speed for just two migration legs indicated that it might be lower, 30 and 40 kph being the values recorded. Greater Sandplovers were only tracked on northward migration but seemed to follow a similar migration strategy with a large initial non-stop flight followed by shorter flights and more regular stopovers. Plans are outlined for further analyses and future deployments of geolocators.


Chiaradia A.,Phillip Island Nature Park | Forero M.G.,CSIC - Doñana Biological Station | Hobson K.A.,Environment Canada | Cullen J.M.,Monash University
ICES Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2010

After the disappearance of primary prey, seabirds exhibit gradually decreased breeding performance, and eventually the population size drops. Results are presented of an investigation into the diet of little penguins (Eudyptula minor) at Phillip Island, Australia, during a period when their key prey, pilchard (Sardinops sagax), declined dramatically. Data from stomach flushing (1982-2006) were used, supported by stable isotope (δ 15N, δ13C) analyses of blood samples (2003, 2004, and 2006). The effect of the pilchard mortality on penguin diet was immediate, the birds shifting to a diet almost devoid of pilchard, and this was followed by 2 years of low breeding success, with considerably fewer penguins coming ashore. During periods when pilchard was not part of the diet, penguins consumed prey of a higher trophic level, e.g. higher values of δ15N. Variability in penguin blood δ15N coincided with years of low prey diversity. The disappearance of pilchard resulted in a decrease in prey diversity and led penguins to "fish up" the foodweb, possibly because of the simplified trophic structure. After 1998, however, breeding success re-attained average levels and the numbers of penguins coming ashore increased, probably because of increased abundance of prey other than pilchard after a 3-year period of food scarcity. Although little penguins apparently compensated over time, a less-flexible diet could make them ultimately vulnerable to further changes in their foodweb. © 2010 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.


Zimmer I.,University of Strasbourg | Zimmer I.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Ropert-Coudert Y.,University of Strasbourg | Ropert-Coudert Y.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Age-related changes in breeding performance are likely to be mediated through changes in parental foraging performance. We investigated the relationship of foraging performance with age in female little penguins at Phillip Island, Australia, during the guard phase of the 2005 breeding season. Foraging parameters were recorded with accelerometers for birds grouped into three age-classes: (1) young, (2) middle age and (3) old females. We found the diving behaviour of middleaged birds differed from young and old birds. The dive duration of middle age females was shorter than that of young and old birds while their dive effort (measure for dive and post-dive duration relation) was lower than that of young ones, suggesting middle-aged birds were in better physical condition than other ones. There was no difference in prey pursuit frequency or duration between age classes, but in the hunting tactic. Females pursued more prey around and after reaching the maximum depth of dives the more experienced they were (old > middle age > young), an energy saving hunting tactic by probably taking advantage of up-thrust momentum. We suggest middle age penguins forage better than young or old ones because good physical condition and foraging experience could act simultaneously. © 2011 Zimmer et al.


Zimmer I.,University of Strasbourg | Zimmer I.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Ropert-Coudert Y.,University of Strasbourg | Ropert-Coudert Y.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 6 more authors.
Marine Biology | Year: 2011

A complex interaction of biotic and abiotic factors influences animal foraging activity. It is often difficult to understand which factors may affect animals' foraging and how it is affected. For instance, whereas the effect of sexual dimorphism on foraging activity has been reported in several species, little is known of the complex interactions between variables acting at a finer scale, e.g. the variability of body mass within a sex. Evaluating the importance of these finer scale factors is also essential to the understanding of foraging behaviour. We propose here a simple approach by applying principal component analysis (PCA) in a novel way to examine relationships between biotic and abiotic factors affecting foraging behaviour of top predators. We studied female little penguins (Eudyptula minor) of known age, carrying miniature accelerometers during the guard stage of breeding. Surprisingly, the body mass of the females did not influence any of the foraging parameters, but females foraging later in the breeding season dived shallower and more often, showing a strong correlation with laying date. Similarly, the diving effort of females was greater with increasing chick age within the same breeding stage. These results indicate that for female little penguin, the relationship between changes in prey availability and hunting effort can change at a fine scale, within a breeding stage. Therefore, any analysis of little penguin foraging behaviour during breeding should consider the timing in relation to the breeding season. We encourage researchers to develop the use of this PCA approach as it could help clarify the complexity of the underlying mechanisms determining foraging activity and we propose that it should be used as a first step of foraging behaviour analysis, before examining a particular relationship. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.


Brasso R.L.,University of North Carolina at Greensboro | Chiaradia A.,Phillip Island Nature Park | Polito M.J.,Louisiana State University | Raya Rey A.,CONICET | Emslie S.D.,University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2015

The wide geographic distribution of penguins (Order Sphenisciformes) throughout the Southern Hemisphere provided a unique opportunity to use a single taxonomic group as biomonitors of mercury among geographically distinct marine ecosystems. Mercury concentrations were compared among ten species of penguins representing 26 geographically distinct breeding populations. Mercury concentrations were relatively low (≤2.00. ppm) in feathers from 18/26 populations considered. Population-level differences in trophic level explained variation in mercury concentrations among Little, King, and Gentoo penguin populations. However, Southern Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins breeding on Staten Island, Tierra del Fuego, had the highest mercury concentrations relative to their conspecifics despite foraging at a lower trophic level. The concurrent use of stable isotope and mercury data allowed us to document penguin populations at the greatest risk of exposure to harmful concentrations of mercury as a result of foraging at a high trophic level or in geographic 'hot spots' of mercury availability. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


PubMed | CONICET, Louisiana State University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Phillip Island Nature Park
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Marine pollution bulletin | Year: 2015

The wide geographic distribution of penguins (Order Sphenisciformes) throughout the Southern Hemisphere provided a unique opportunity to use a single taxonomic group as biomonitors of mercury among geographically distinct marine ecosystems. Mercury concentrations were compared among ten species of penguins representing 26 geographically distinct breeding populations. Mercury concentrations were relatively low (2.00ppm) in feathers from 18/26 populations considered. Population-level differences in trophic level explained variation in mercury concentrations among Little, King, and Gentoo penguin populations. However, Southern Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins breeding on Staten Island, Tierra del Fuego, had the highest mercury concentrations relative to their conspecifics despite foraging at a lower trophic level. The concurrent use of stable isotope and mercury data allowed us to document penguin populations at the greatest risk of exposure to harmful concentrations of mercury as a result of foraging at a high trophic level or in geographic hot spots of mercury availability.


Ritchie W.J.,La Trobe University | Green J.A.,La Trobe University | Green J.A.,University of Liverpool | Dann P.,Phillip Island Nature Park | And 3 more authors.
Emu | Year: 2010

Abdominally implanted data-loggers have been used to study the behaviour and physiology of birds, with no detectable negative effects. This technique has great potential for smaller and streamlined species, since these animals tend to be more prone to the negative effects that may be associated with externally attached devices. We conducted the first assessment of the impacts of abdominally implanted heart-rate data-loggers on a smaller species, the Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor), which weighs ∼1.1kg. The number and duration of trips to sea were recorded in male penguins implanted with a device (n≤10) and compared with a control group not implanted with a device (n≤10). Trips were recorded for the entire duration of the Penguins' winter non-breeding period, which for this species is the time of year when their energy budgets are most delicately balanced. The heart-rate data-loggers appeared to have no effect on percentage of time spent at sea, and the number and duration of overnight trips of 25 days or 626 days. Implanted Penguins undertook fewer trips of 1-day duration but the duration of these trips of 1 day was not affected. Individual Penguins showed highly variable foraging behaviour and the difference in the number of trips of 1 day may be attributed to individual specialisation in foraging behaviour. © 2010 Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.


Minton C.,165 Dalgetty Road Beaumaris | Connor M.,19 Pamela Grove Lower Templestowe | Price D.,8 Scattor View Bridford | Jessop R.,Phillip Island Nature Park | And 5 more authors.
Conservation Science Western Australia | Year: 2013

This paper analyses ground counts and aerial surveys of high-tide wader roosts conducted over the 23-year period from 1981 to 2003, at Eighty Mile Beach, north-west Australia. It provides a baseline data set with which later count data can be compared. Over the study period, Eighty Mile Beach held a maximum of around 470,000 waders in any given year. This represented around 20% of the total number of migratory waders visiting Australia each year and around 6% of the total East Asian - Australasian Flyway migratory wader population. The most numerous species were great knot (169,000), bar-tailed godwit (110,000), greater sand plover (65,000) and oriental plover (58,000). Distribution of waders along the beach was not uniform, with up to 85% occurring in the section between 25 km and 80 km south of Cape Missiessy where, at peak, numbers averaged 7000 per kilometre of shore; however, distributions for some species diverged from this pattern. Count data showed that waders arrived in north-west Australia over an extended period from July to October. The majority of these birds remained at Eighty Mile Beach throughout the nonbreeding season (austral summer) although some smaller waders used Eighty Mile Beach as a staging point. Most adult birds left on northward migration in March-April of the following year. The number of (mainly) immature birds remaining at Eighty Mile Beach over the May-July period was equivalent to 9% of the peak spring/summer population. The counts also showed that Eighty Mile Beach, especially the southern half, is important for resident wader species. Threats to its ecological integrity are identified and the introduction of enhanced long-term protection measures recommended to ensure that key sections of Eighty Mile Beach are managed for the benefit of the internationally significant numbers of waders occurring there. © The Government of Western Australia, 2013.


Saraux C.,CNRS Hubert Curien Multi-disciplinary Institute | Saraux C.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Saraux C.,Agro ParisTech | Chiaradia A.,Phillip Island Nature Park | And 4 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2011

According to life-history theory, individuals optimize their decisions in order to maximize their fitness. This raises a conflict between parents, which need to cooperate to ensure the propagation of their genes but at the same time need to minimize the associated costs. Trading-off between benefits and costs of a reproduction is one of the major forces driving demographic trends and has shaped several different parental care strategies. Using little penguins (Eudyptula minor) as a model, we investigated whether individuals of a pair provide equal parental effort when raising offspring and whether their behavior was consistent over 8 years of contrasting resource availability. Using an automated identification system, we found that 72% of little penguin pairs exhibited unforced (i.e., that did not result from desertion of 1 parent) unequal partnership through the postguard stage. This proportion was lower in favorable years. Although being an equal pair appeared to be a better strategy, it was nonetheless the least often observed. Individuals that contributed less than their partner were not less experienced (measured by age), and gender did not explain differences between partners. Furthermore, birds that contributed little or that contributed a lot tended to be consistent in their level of contribution across years. We suggest that unequal effort during breeding may reflect differences in individual quality, and we encourage future studies on parental care to consider this consistent low and high contributor behavior when investigating differences in pair investment into its offspring. © 2011 The Author.


Brasso R.L.,University of North Carolina at Wilmington | Drummond B.E.,University of North Carolina at Wilmington | Borrett S.R.,University of North Carolina at Wilmington | Chiaradia A.,Phillip Island Nature Park | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry | Year: 2013

The authors hypothesized that the catastrophic annual molt of penguins (Sphenisciformes) would lead to reduced intraindividual variation of mercury concentrations in body feathers. While mean mercury concentrations varied significantly among 8 penguin species, intraindividual variability did not differ among species and was 3 times lower than values observed in other seabirds. The findings of the present study suggest that a single body feather collected at random per individual can be adequate to estimate mercury exposure at the population level in penguins. © 2013 SETAC.

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