Posted on by Phillip Island Nature Parks
New research by Australian and French scientists has revealed age segregation in foraging strategies by little penguins at Phillip Island in Victoria, Australia.
The research, published in the online version of Oecologia, reveals a spatial separation in the foraging range between old (>11 years) and middle aged (5-11 years) penguins. Older penguins were found to forage closer to shore in shallower water, while middle age penguins went further offshore. No difference, however, was found in dive effort and foraging efficiency between age classes and sex.
“For more than two decades we have been exploring the life of little penguins at sea - where do they go, what do they eat and how do they catch their prey?” said Dr André Chiaradia, a penguin biologist from Phillip Island Nature Parks and one of the paper’s co-authors.
The researchers hypothesise the age specific segregation was primarily determined by a ‘cohort effect’ where individual penguins that fledged and dispersed around the same time would forage together or share similar foraging limitations.
“Now that we know penguins feed in different places as they age we can now look at age-specific issues of penguins’ foraging behaviour - critical information to help our conservation efforts of this iconic species,” Dr Chiaradia concluded.
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