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Sex identification in King Penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus through morphological and acoustic cues

Abstract : In the context of sexual selection, animals have developed a variety of cues conveying information about the sex of an individual to conspecifics. In many colonial seabird species, where females and males are monomorphic and do not show obvious differences in external morphology, acoustic cues are an important signal for individual and sex recognition. Here, we study the vocal and morphological sex dimorphism in the King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus, a colonial, monomorphic seabird for which our knowledge about the role of vocalizations and morphology in mate choice is very limited. Data were collected at Possession Island, Crozet Archipelago, in a breeding colony consisting of about 16 000 breeding pairs. Using measurements of six morphological features and analysing acoustic parameters of call recordings of adult individuals, we show that King Penguins can be sexed based on a single morphological measurement of the beak with an accuracy of 79%. We found a sexspecific syntax in adult King Penguin calls that provided a 100% accurate method to distinguish between the sexes in our study population. To confirm the method at the species level, we analysed calls recorded from King Penguin adults in Kerguelen Island, 1300 km away from our study population and found the same accuracy of the sex-specific syntax. This sex-specific syllable arrangement is rare in non-passerines and is a first step in understanding the mate choice process in this species. Furthermore, it offers a cost-effective, noninvasive technique for researchers to sex King Penguins in the field.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01721443
Contributor : Brigitte Gaillard <>
Submitted on : Friday, March 2, 2018 - 10:16:42 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 1:46:10 PM

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Hannah Kriesell, Thierry Aubin, Victor Planas-Bielsa, Marine Benoiste, Francesco Bonadonna, et al.. Sex identification in King Penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus through morphological and acoustic cues. Ibis, Wiley, 2018, ⟨10.1111/ibi.12577⟩. ⟨hal-01721443⟩

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