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Pygoscelis penguin diets on King George Island, South Shetland Islands, with a special focus on the krill Euphausia superba

  • Anna Panasiuk (a1), Justyna Wawrzynek-Borejko (a1), Aleksandra Musiał (a1) and Małgorzata Korczak-Abshire (a2)

Abstract

In the krill-based ecosystem of the Antarctic, fluctuations in the distribution and abundance of Euphausia superba may have strong impacts on predator populations; thus, it is crucial to observe the feeding ecology of Antarctic predators, especially in the light of climate change and increasing human pressure. We determined the composition of euphausiid species in diet samples collected from Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae), chinstrap (Pygoscelis antarcticus) and gentoo (Pygoscelis papua) penguins on King George Island (South Shetlands Islands) during a breeding season. For all three penguin species, euphausiids (mainly E. superba) represented almost the entirety of researched stomach samples (i.e. 99.9% in the case of Adélie and chinstrap penguins), while gentoo penguins also proved to feed on fish (99.4% krill; 0.5% fish). Analysed material differed in the size of eaten E. superba specimens, with the smallest crustaceans consumed by Adélie penguins. Furthermore, we found differences in the ratio of consumed krill and krill size. Such disparities may be a result of sex-based differences and slight differences in feeding areas between the birds. Additionally, we noted some fragments of plastic debris in the investigated penguin diet samples.

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Keywords

Pygoscelis penguin diets on King George Island, South Shetland Islands, with a special focus on the krill Euphausia superba

  • Anna Panasiuk (a1), Justyna Wawrzynek-Borejko (a1), Aleksandra Musiał (a1) and Małgorzata Korczak-Abshire (a2)

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