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SCHULL Quentin

Dernière mise à jour vendredi 5 février 2016, par Mathilde TISSIER

SCHULL Quentin

Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien - IPHC
Département Ecologie, Physiologie et Ethologie - DEPE
Ecophysiologie et changements environnementaux

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS
UMR 7178 CNRS/Université De Strasbourg - UDS

23 rue Becquerel, 67087 Strasbourg cedex 2, France

Contact : Quentin Schull

Titre de la thèse : Sexual and social selection in breeding king penguin

Période : 2013-2016

Encadrant(s) : Jean-Patrice Robin & Pierre Bize



Diversity of life histories is mainly explained by the concept that organisms face trade-offs. A corner-stone idea of life history theory is the ability of organisms to allocate a limited quantity of energy and resources to the main vital functions such as growth, reproduction and defence (immunity, maintenance). The balance between each of these components will ultimately define how organisms reproduce themselves and how long they will live. In addition, species adaptation ability is principally defined by how life history trade-offs will enable organisms to overcome environmental constraints.

Most of the previous studies focusing on the physiological bases of life history trade-offs considered energy differential allocation, rightly, as an important factor. However, the last decade has seen the development of non-energetic aspects of trade-offs linked to the direct negative impact of one trait on another. Still, most of the relationship between energetic and non energetic trade-offs remains mainly uncovered. Therefore, studying how this relationship evolved in a species growing and reproducing while facing a negative energy balance will bring original data and open new perspectives. Colonial birds (and among them the king penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus) offer an exceptional opportunity to undergo this kind of research. In this project, we will explore in this species how adults and chicks cope with environmental constraints such as parasite load and food availability throughout their biological cycle according to the timing of reproduction.

As a brief outline, the king penguin chick presents one of the longer growth period among birds, with an intermediate long winter break during which feeding events are unpredictable. Therefore, both pre- and post-winter growths are determinant for chick survival and the future adult phenotype potentially because : (i) the chick has to accumulate body reserves to survive during the winter fasting, (ii) has to be in an optimal body condition throughout the growth period to reduce predation risks and (iii) small chicks at the end of the winter has to catch-up in size and reserves to fledge successfully, with the associated potential long-term fitness costs. Thus, the king penguin chick has to set-up an efficient energy balance to optimize its growth rate and one of our hypotheses is that physiological mechanisms of energy sparing are of great importance. This key idea of energy sparing stands also in the centre of other hypotheses, for example concerning the biology of reproductive adults which face a negative energy balance during incubation. In this context, the evolution of resistance to environmental stress or parasites is of great importance given the potential effect of stress on energy expenditure, body reserves mobilization and tissue development, and ultimately on reproductive success (adults) and individual survival (chicks).

In adults, the physiological responses (energy use, stress response, immune response) during the reproduction fast according to the individual quality (determined from secondary sex characteristics), the characteristics of the breeding colony and parasite load will be analysed throughout the reproductive period. In chicks the effect of the timing of reproduction and parental quality on growth trajectories and survival will be assessed.

This work will be a part of the ECONERGY project that receives the financial and logistic supports of the French Polar Institut and of the Terres Australes Françaises.


Viblanc, Vincent A., F. Stephen Dobson, Antoine Stier, Quentin Schull, Claire Saraux, Benoit Gineste, Sylvia Pardonnet, Marion Kauffmann, Jean-Patrice Robin, and Pierre Bize. Mutually Honest ? Physiological ‘qualities’ Signaled by Color Ornaments in Monomorphic King Penguins. Biological Journal of the Linean Society. (In press)

Stier, A., Bize, P., Roussel, D., Schull, Q., Massemin, S., & Criscuolo, F. (2014) Mitochondrial uncoupling as a regulator of life history trajectories in birds : An experimental study in the zebra finch. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 217, 3579–3589. DOI : 10.1242/jeb.103945

Stier A., Bize P., Schull Q., Zoll J., Singh F., Geny B., Gros F., Royer C., Massemin S., & Criscuolo F. (2013) Avian erythrocytes have functional mitochondria, opening novel perspectives for birds as animal models in the study of ageing. Frontiers in Zoology 10(1), 33. DOI:10.1186/1742-9994-10-33


Scientific communications

Quentin Schull, Antoine Stier, François Criscuolo, Vincent A. Viblanc, Pierre Bize, Jean-Patrice Robin, Prolonged fasting : how king penguins cope with physiological oxidative stress. Colloque d’Ecophysiologie Animale – CEPA 2e édition, 4-6/11/2015, La Rochelle, France. Oral Presentation

Quentin Schull, Vincent A. Viblanc,F. Stephen Dobson, Antoine Stier, François Criscuolo, Emilie Lefol, Hédi Saadaoui, Pierre Bize, Jean-Patrice Robin. Sexual selection and individual quality in the king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus). 11es Journées Scientifiques, 28-29/5/2015, Paris, France. Oral Presentation

Quentin Schull, Vincent A. Viblanc, Antoine Stier, Laureline Durand, Emilie Lefol, Pierre Bize, Jean-Patrice Robin, Sexual selection and individual quality : do parental color ornaments predict chick growth in monogamous king penguin, Aptenodytes patagonicus ? European Ornitologist Union, 24-28/08/2015, Badajoz, Spain. Poster

Quentin Schull, F. Stephen Dobson, Jean-Patrice Robin, Pierre Bize et Vincent A. Viblanc. Experimental and correlative evidence for condition-dependent sexual signals in breeding king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus), 2nd World Sea Bird Conference 27/10/2015, Cape Town, South Africa. Oral Presentation

Quentin Schull, F. Stephen Dobson, Antoine Stier, François Criscuolo, Emilie Lefol, Hédi Saadaoui, Vincent A. Viblanc, Jean-Patrice Robin, Pierre Bize. A flexible sexual ornament in a monomorphic bird, the king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) : how to choose someone to fit ? 11th Ecology & Behaviour meeting, 18-21/05/2015, Toulouse, France. Poster.

Popular science

Meyer X., Schull Q.. Travailler la tête en bas : l’étude des manchots dans l’hémisphère sud. Journée des doctorants, Strasbourg, France, June 2014.


Biodiversité, L1 Faculté de Biologie, Université de Strasbourg, Octobre-décembre 2013