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Ivan Fadeev
Ivan Fadeev

The Long Drive Build.20072022.rar

In marine habitats, increasing ocean temperatures due to global climate change may distinctly reduce nutrient and consequently food availability for seabirds. Food availability is a known driver of body mass and reproductive investment in birds, but these traits may also depend on individual effects. Penguins show extreme intra-annual body mass variation and rely on accumulated body reserves for successful breeding. However, no study so far has tested individual consistency and phenotypic responses in body mass and reproductive investment in this taxon. Using a unique dataset on individually marked female and male southern rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome chrysocome) across six years, we investigated 1) the individual consistency in body mass (measured at egg laying), body condition and reproductive investment across years, subsequently 2) identified the best-explanatory temperature-related environmental variables for female and male body mass, and 3) tested the effect of female and male body mass on reproductive investment. Body mass, body condition and reproductive investment were all highly repeatable. As body condition should control for the structural size of the birds, the similarly high repeatability estimates for body mass and body condition suggested that the consistent between-individual body mass differences were independent of structural size. This supported the use of body mass for the subsequent analyses. Body mass was higher under colder environmental conditions (positive Southern Annular Mode), but the overall phenotypic response appeared limited. Reproductive investment increased with female but not male body mass. While environmental effects on body mass in our study period were rather small, one can expect that ongoing global climate change will lead to a deterioration of food availability and we might therefore in the long-term expect a phenotypical decline in body mass and reproductive investment.

The Long Drive Build.20072022.rar

Considering that body mass may thus affect reproductive investment (linked to life-time reproductive success; [25]), the effects of global climate change may go beyond a reduction in body mass and reproductive investment as a phenotypically plastic response. In the long term, the effect of decreased food availability on body mass due to increasing temperatures may also have consequences for population dynamics and the conservation status of species.

Southern rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome chrysocome) are one of the smallest species of penguins [33] and ideal to study the phenotypic plasticity in body mass and reproductive investment as a response to their environment. They mainly feed on low trophic level prey (e.g. krill, small fish and squid; [34]). This makes them sensitive to changes in environmental conditions that affect local primary productivity. As other crested penguins (genus Eudyptes), they are long-lived, monogamous and exhibit a high fidelity to both nest-site and partner, usually attempting to breed every year [35, 36], which enabled us to study the same individuals across several years. Furthermore, they are typical capital breeders [15] and therefore acquire the necessary energy reserves for reproduction before and during their migration to breeding sites. Thus, if environmental conditions affect food availability and body mass, this should also be visible in the reproductive investment.

The marine foraging habitat of the southern rockhopper penguin is influenced by the cold, nutrient-rich Falkland Current that originates north of the Antarctic Peninsula [40, 41]. This area has undergone one of the strongest warming trends worldwide [42, 43], which is reflected in the advancement of breeding, demographic responses and distribution shifts in local Antarctic penguin species (e.g. [44, 45]). Effects of this warming trend on southern rockhopper penguins therefore appear very likely in the long-term. Considering that the species is currently listed as vulnerable [46], predictions on how environmental changes affect adult body mass and consequently reproductive investment will be important for conservation actions. 041b061a72


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