Skua ( Catharacta sp.) foraging behaviour at the Cape Crozier Adelie Penguin ( Pygoscelis adeliae ) colony, Ross Island, Antarctica, and implications for breeding
|Title||Skua ( Catharacta sp.) foraging behaviour at the Cape Crozier Adelie Penguin ( Pygoscelis adeliae ) colony, Ross Island, Antarctica, and implications for breeding|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||1999|
|Authors||Young, EC, Millar, CD|
|Type of Article||paper|
|Keywords||Adelie Penguin, Cape Crozier, foraging, prey- predator relations, South Polar Skua|
We observed that South Polar Skuas (Catharacta maccormicki) breeding near the Adelie Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) western colony at Cape Crozier, Ross Island, Antarctica were able to forage throughout the colony, the majority of which was not defended by territorial skuas as in other Ross Island colonies. All local skuas were able to find enough food on the colony throughout January to support breeding and none were seen to forage at sea. Skuas foraged as individuals to obtain penguin eggs and chicks but kleptoparasitism usually occurred so that several skuas fed in turn on a single carcass. At the end of each feeding event a general melee occurred in which up to 30 skuas fought over the chick remains. The implications for skua breeding of this foraging regime, in which any skuas in the local area can obtain penguin food, are considered. We suggest that the high levels of food availability contributed to the unusually high success for this region of these skuas in raising both chicks. Desertion of chicks while foraging, however, leads to some mortality among older chicks later in the season through predation. It is recommended that further research on skuas at super-large penguin colonies be undertaken.