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Acoustic communication in king, Adélie, and emperor penguins: what calls can tell us about ecological processes in species threatened by global climate change

Last update: : Thursday 18 June 2015, by Nicolas Busser

Par : Hannah Kriesell (doctorante - Responsable Céline Le Bohec)
Date : Jeudi 25 juin 2015 à 13h30
Lieu : IPHC, Amphithéâtre Grünewald, bâtiment 25

Some penguin species, such as the king penguin, usually breed in large and dense colonies where the reli-ability of visual cues is limited. Furthermore, several studies of penguins have shown that individuals ap-pear to not recognize kin without acoustic cues, which can be more reliable in such conditions. Thus, vo-calizations have been identified as key for intra-individual communication in several penguin species. To understand important behaviors, such as the establishment and defense of territory, mate selection and attraction, kin recognition and parent-offspring communication in penguins, an understanding of their acoustic communication is important.
This PhD project will focus on three different penguin species (king penguins, Aptenodytes patagonicus; Adélie penguins, Pygoscelis adeliae; emperor penguins, Aptenodytes forsteri).

The aims of this project are to:

1. Investigate whether colony-specific patterns exist in king penguins and which features may reveal col-ony-identity. Although calls are innate, breeding site fidelity is expected to lead to differences in acoustic parameters due to genetic drift between isolated populations, i.e. in birds from different archipelagos (Crozet and Kerguelen) and even between different colonies on the same island (Possession Island, Crozet archipelago).

2. Assess potential inter-individual differences in the calls of breeding versus non-breeding individuals. Preliminary results suggest that calls may differ in their structure depending on the breeding status of the caller.

3. Link the coloration/UV-characteristics of king penguins to the acoustic analysis to get a more complete picture of the mate selection process in this species.

4. Link the analyses of acoustics and ornamentation to individual traits, such as age, sex, breeding experi-ence and performance, structural size, body condition, and/or breeding site, to understand the relevant processes of mate selection in king, Adélie and emperor penguins. We might find acoustic parameters that signal phenotypic traits of the calling individual and will investigate to what extent display calls are biolog-ically “honest” signals.

This PhD will reveal information about acoustic signaling in penguins and therefore shed light on important ecological processes in the three study species.