Jennings, S., Dugger, K.M., Ballard, G., Ainley, D.G.
We conducted the first assessment of Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) chick survival that accounts for imperfect resighting. We found that when chicks are larger in size when they enter the crèche stage (the period when both parents forage at the same time and chicks are left relatively unprotected), they have a higher probability of survival to fledging. We investigated the relationships between growth, crèche timing, and chick survival during one typical year and one year of reduced food availability. Chicks that hatched earlier in the season entered the crèche stage older, and chicks that both grew faster and crèched older entered the crèche at a larger size. These relationships were stronger in the year of reduced food availability. Thus, parents increased their chicks’ chance of fledging if they provided sufficient food for faster growth rates and/or extended the length of the brood-guarding period. Early nest initiation (i.e., early hatching) provided parents with the opportunity to extend the guard period and increase chick survival. However, to extend the guard stage successfully, they must provide larger meals and maintain higher chick growth rates, even if just one parent at a time is foraging, which previous work has shown is not possible for all individuals. We show that the factors governing tradeoffs in chick-rearing behavior of Adélie Penguin parents may vary in accord with environmental conditions, a result from which we can better understand species’ adaptations to environmental changes.
Jennings, S., Dugger, K.M., Ballard, G., Ainley, D.G., 2023. Faster growth and larger size at crèche onset are associated with higher offspring survival in Adélie Penguins. Ornithology ukad006. https://doi.org/10.1093/ornithology/ukad006