Finding a parent in a king penguin colony: the acoustic system of individual recognition

To be fed, a king penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus , chick must identify the call of its parents, in the continuous background noise of the colony. To study this recognition process, we played back to the chicks parental calls with acoustic parameters modified in the temporal and frequency domains. The parental call is composed of syllables […]

Alloparental feeding in the king penguin

We investigated allofeeding (feeding of offspring by adults other than their own parents) in the king penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus, a long-lived pelagic bird that faces severe food shortages during its reproduction and in which parents leave their fasting chick in dense cre`ches. A 1-year monitoring of 103 breeding pairs and 70 chicks was carried out […]

Experiments on colour ornaments and mate choice in king penguins

Research on animal ornaments used in mate choice has largely focused on males, particularly for bird species with sexually dimorphic coloured patches of feathers and integument. Relatively less information is available for coloured ornaments of sexually monomorphic species and the use of these ornaments during mate choice. The king penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus, is a monogamous […]

Aggressiveness in king penguins in relation to reproductive status and territory location

King penguins, Aptenodytes patagonicus, vigorously defend small territories in very dense colonies. The egg-laying season lasts approximately 4 months, but only pairs that reproduce during the first half of the period succeed in fledging a chick. I examined various factors affecting aggressiveness of king penguins during the breeding season and focused on the differences between […]

Eye structure and foraging in King Penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus

Anterior eye structure and retinal visual fields were determined in King Penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus using keratometry and an ophthalmoscopic reflex technique. The cornea is relatively flat (radius 32.9 mm) and hence of low refractive power (10.2 dioptres in air) and this may be correlated with the amphibious nature of penguin vision. The large size of […]

Mutual Mate Choice for Colorful Traits in King Penguins

While studies of mate choice based on male color pattern are ubiquitous, studies of mate choice based on ornamental color traits in sexually monomorphic species are less common. We conducted manipulative field experiments on two color ornaments of king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), the size of auricular patches of orange feathers and degree of UV reflectance […]

Individual breeding decisions and long-term reproductive strategy in the King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus

Although studied for 35 years, knowledge of the reproductive biology of the King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus remains incomplete. The chick requires more than 12 months of care, which extends the breeding cycle, including moult, to more than one year, i.e. the King Penguin is neither annual nor biennial. In an attempt to resolve ambiguities in […]

The king penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus, a non-nesting bird which selects its breeding habitat

Birds are expected to choose their breeding sites according to ‘ideal’ distribution models (Fretwell & Lucas 1970), so that their reproductive output is maximized (Cody 1985). However, studies of breeding habitat selection hitherto conducted on birds have only concerned true nesting species, that is, species that incubate their eggs in a nest or in a […]

Coloured patches influence pairing rate in King Penguins

Ever since Darwin’s (1871) original description of sexual selection, evolutionary biologists have been intrigued by colourful attributes of animals that appear to be ornamental, without offering direct visible benefits to animals. Nevertheless, the potential biological utility of ornaments was only recently tested, perhaps because traits like the Peacock’s Pavo cristatus tail offer no direct, visible […]

The adaptive significance of crèches in the king penguin

Crèching behaviour in penguins is defined as the rearing of chicks by their own parents in large flocks called ‘crèches’. Although several hypotheses have been proposed to account for the behaviour, the factors inducing chicks to aggregate remain relatively poorly understood, in particular for colonial seabirds. We studied crèching behaviour in the king penguin, Aptenodytes […]