Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 4, pp 1535–1542 | Cite as

Diving behaviour of Little Penguins from four colonies across their whole distribution range: bathymetry affecting diving effort and fledging success

  • André ChiaradiaEmail author
  • Yan Ropert-Coudert
  • Akiko Kato
  • Thomas Mattern
  • Julija Yorke
Research Article


Little Penguins, Eudyptula minor, breed in several small colonies in New Zealand and Australia. In this study, we compare the birds’ diving performances at different sites situated throughout their breeding range. Environmental conditions and breeding success vary drastically amongst colonies, but all birds feed on similar types of prey and face similar limitations on their foraging range. We examined several diving parameters and calculated the proportion of foraging zone available during breeding to examine whether oceanographic and geographic factors in the foraging zone can explain variations in diving behaviour and fledging success among the different colonies. In colonies with high fledging success, Penguin Island and Oamaru, penguins made shallow dives <50 m depth and had lower diving effort. More than 90% of the foraging zone was in waters <50 m depth in these colonies. Motuara Island also has shallow waters with 95% <50 m depth, but the fledging success was low. Phillip Island has only 42% of waters <50 m and comparatively low fledging success. Thus, penguins dived deeper and showed a higher diving effort in colonies with lower fledging success (Motuara Island and Phillip Island), indicating that they were disadvantaged compared to conspecifics from other colonies that dived shallower and with a lesser diving effort. We concluded that bathymetry is an important factor, but not the only one, which influences fledging success.


Colony Size Bottom Phase Gentoo Penguin Diving Behaviour Diving Depth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank P. Dann and the research group at the Phillip Island Nature Park, D. Houston (Department of Conservation, Oamaru, NZ), Y. Naito, B. Cannell, the staff and rangers at Penguin Island, Western Australia, and the staff at Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. P. Dann kindly provided the breeding data for King Island. S. Ward supervised J. Yorke on her honours thesis, which was part of the data used in this study. This project was funded by the Japanese Society for Promotion of Science, Phillip Island Nature Park, University of Melbourne, Murdoch University, Otago University Research Grant, Sasakawa Scientific Research Grant from the Japan Science Society and BHP-Billiton grant. The research was approved by the respective ethics committees of Phillip Island Nature Park, Murdoch University and Otago University and has permits from the relevant regional conservation departments at each study site.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Chiaradia
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yan Ropert-Coudert
    • 2
  • Akiko Kato
    • 2
  • Thomas Mattern
    • 3
  • Julija Yorke
    • 4
  1. 1.Phillip Island Nature ParkCowesAustralia
  2. 2.National Institute of Polar ResearchTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  4. 4.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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