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External devices on penguins: how important is shape?
Culik, B.; Bannash, R.; Wilson, R.P. (1994). External devices on penguins: how important is shape? Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 118(3): 353-357
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Culik, B.
  • Bannash, R.
  • Wilson, R.P.

    Many researchers use external recording or transmitting devices to elucidate the marine ecology of fish, mammals and birds. Deleterious effects of these instruments on the parameters researchers wish to measure are hardly ever discussed in the literature. Research has shown that, in penguins, volume and cross-sectional area of instruments negatively correlate with swimming speed. dive depth and breeding success, and that device colour affects bird behaviour. Here, a large (200 g, cross-sectional area 2100 mm2) streamlined device was attached to the lower back of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae on Ardley Island, South Shetland Island in 1992) and its effects on bird swimming speed and energetics were measured in a water canal in Antarctica. Although the device was 10.5% of penguin cross-sectional area, swimming speed was reduced by only 8.3% and mean power input increased by only 5.6% while swimming. Although our streamlined device was five times more voluminous than one of our older units, the effect on swimming energetics could be reduced by 87%.

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