Energy requirements and food consumption of Eudyptes penguins at the Prince Edward Islands

  • Brown C
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Macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) and rockhopper penguins (E. chrysocome) account for a substantial proportion of the avian biomass at the subantarctic Prince Edward Islands (47°S, 38°E) in summer, when both species are breeding at the islands. Information on breeding population sizes, breeding and moulting activities, and diets were combined with measurements of the penguins' energy expenditures to construct a bioenergetic model of their energy requirements and food consumption at the islands. Total energy requirements of adults and chicks amounted to 460 × 109 kJ and 162 × 109 kJ for macaroni and rockhopper penguins, respectively. Food consumption was estimated to amount to a total of 166 000 tonnes during the seven-month breeding and moulting cycle, of which macaroni penguins consumed 75%. Most, if not all, of this food is taken within a 200-km radius of the islands. Available information suggests that potential primary production in the immediate vicinity of the islands is sufficient to support the macaroni and rockhopper penguin populations. However, the importance in the diets of the penguins of several prey species more typical of Antarctic and subtropical regions suggests that the penguins rely to a large extent on the importation of prey populations from other areas.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Subantarctic
  • bioenergetics
  • ecological modelling
  • energy requirements
  • food consumption
  • penguins

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  • Christopher R. Brown

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