As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Penguin parents: Inability to share roles increases their vulnerability to climate change

Young penguins suffer at feeding time due to an inflexible division of parental duties

Date: February 10, 2016
Source: Springer

The fixed division of labour between crested penguin parents increases their chicks' vulnerability to food shortages made ever more common by climate change. The parents have been unable to adapt their habits to the challenges of increasingly frequent years of limited food supply and, as a result, will become further threatened by extinction. So says Kyle Morrison of Massey University and the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, who led a study published in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

The main duties of all penguin parents are to provide food and to defend their offspring against predatory seabirds and other intruding penguins. While on guard duty, parents fast and do not go off to sea to feed. Most penguins avoid long fasting periods by alternating brooding and chick-provisioning duties between the sexes. However, the seven species of Eudyptespenguins (the crested penguins, including rockhopper penguins) are an exception. Males guard and fast for the first three to four weeks after eggs have hatched. During this time, females are the sole providers. During the next six weeks, chicks gather together in crèches and can be fed by both parents. During this crèche phase, both sexes may make extended multi-day trips to sea to regain weight.

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