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Factors affecting adult body condition in the endangered northern rockhopper penguin

Abstract : Understanding the factors that drive the dynamics of populations of long-lived species presents a unique challenge for conservation management. Here, we investigated long-term change in the body condition of adult northern rockhopper penguins Eudyptes moseleyi at Amsterdam Island, southern Indian Ocean, which hosts 5-10% of the global population of this endangered species. Analysis of a long-term dataset (1994-2016), concurrent to the population's rapid decline, revealed no trend in adult northern rockhopper penguin body condition over time at the stages considered in this study, i.e. breeding and moulting. However, body condition varied between years and sexes and part of this variation was explained by environmental factors. Males were on average in better condition than females whatever the stage and individuals on average were in better condition during the moulting compared to the breeding period. The environmental conditions [sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTa), Subtropical Indian Ocean Dipole (SIOD) and Southern Annular Mode (SAM)] appeared to impact non-linearly the body condition. Overall, females were in better condition for negative values of SAM, SIOD and SSTa. The body condition of males exhibited similar but less complex and more significant patterns, with decreasing body condition for increasing SAM, SIOD and SSTa. The absence of long-term trends in male and female body condition suggests that the very low reproductive output and declining population since 1997 is probably not the result of environmental conditions during pre-breeding and pre-moult and necessitates further research into possible drivers during the breeding season.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 18, 2021 - 10:19:19 AM
Last modification on : Friday, December 3, 2021 - 11:42:56 AM


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Karine Delord, Cédric Cotté, Pascal Terray, Charles-André Bost, Henri Weimerskirch, et al.. Factors affecting adult body condition in the endangered northern rockhopper penguin. Marine Biology, Springer Verlag, 2021, 168 (3), pp.27. ⟨10.1007/s00227-021-03832-z⟩. ⟨hal-03381813⟩



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