Oceanographic and climatic factors influencing breeding and colony attendance patterns of Humboldt penguins Spheniscus humboldti in central Chile

Alejandro Simeone, Braulio Araya, Mariano Bernal, Edward N. Diebold, Karen Grzybowski, Margaret Michaels, J. Andrew Teare, Roberta S. Wallace, Mary Jo Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A colony of Humboldt penguins Spheniscus humboldti in central Chile was monitored from August 1995 to July 2000 to determine patterns of breeding and colony attendance and how these were affected by climatic (rainfall) and oceanographic (El Niño) factors. Nests were periodically checked for contents and roosting birds were counted from vantage points. Two main breeding events were observed: between August and January (spring event) and between April and June (autumn event). Whereas the spring event regularly produced offspring, the autumn event was systematically affected by rains, causing considerable nest desertion. Adults were present in the colony from August to May, abandoning the colony during winter after the nests were flooded. Juveniles occurred only between November and March. Adults moulted mainly in February, while juveniles moulted in January. During the 1997/98 El Niño episode, the number of breeding pairs was 55 to 85 % lower than the mean, the onset of nesting was delayed, and abnormally heavy rainfall flooded nests. While the number of breeding pairs was significantly related to sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTA), breeding success was not. The attendance of adults and juveniles at the colony during El Niño was 25 and 73 % lower, respectively, than the mean attendance. This 2-peak breeding strategy of Humboldt penguins appears to have evolved in response to the more favourable oceanographic and climatic conditions of Perú, where breeding is continuous and not interrupted by rains. Although less productive, the species probably maintains its autumnal breeding in central Chile because this provides additional offspring to supplement those regularly produced during the spring event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Volume227
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2002

Keywords

  • Breeding
  • Colony attendance
  • El Niño
  • Humboldt penguin
  • Nest desertion
  • Spheniscus humboldti

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology

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