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Transition to independence and evidence of extended parental care in the gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua)
Polito, M.J.; Trivelpiece, W.Z. (2008). Transition to independence and evidence of extended parental care in the gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 154: 231-240.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Polito, M.J.
  • Trivelpiece, W.Z.

    We used radio telemetry and observations to study the activity patterns and behavior of gentoo penguin chicks at Admiralty Bay, King George Island, South Shetland Islands in 2005 during their “fledging period”; defined as the time between a chick’s first trip to sea and its final dispersal from the breeding colony. Gentoo penguins exhibited delayed dispersal of young and extended parental provisioning, behaviors not observed in other Pygoscelis species. Chicks took their first trip to sea at a mean age of 70 days of age, before finally departing the colony at a mean age of 82 days. During this fledging period, individual chicks made an average of five trips to sea. Trip duration increased significantly as chicks aged, with trips to sea becoming similar to literature values of adult foraging trips in both timing and duration. Behavioral observations and mass dynamics confirmed that many chicks were still being fed during this fledging period, with parental feeding behaviors most often observed in the late afternoon to evening hours. We hypothesize that these behaviors provide an opportunity for chicks to gain experience at sea prior to dispersal and might allow them to develop foraging skills before they are completely independent.

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