Aspects of the breeding biology of the southern rockhopper penguin Eudyptes c. chrysocome and new consideration on the intrinsic capacity of the A-egg
Strange, Ian J.
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The rockhopper penguins Eudyptes chrysocome have recently been split into the northern E. moseleyi and the southern E. chrysocome rockhopper penguin. It is therefore crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the biology of each species in order to develop appropriate conservation measures. We investigated the breeding biology of the southern rockhopper on New Island, in the western part of the Falklands Islands, by following the breeding attempt of 160 pairs during the 2006/2007 season and examining the effect of lay time and colony habitat on breeding success. Specifically, we compared survival and growth parameters between A- and B-eggs and chicks from non-manipulated and artificially manipulated nests to investigate why southern rockhopper penguins in the Falkland Islands are more able to fledge an A-egg (first laid) than conspecifics elsewhere. Breeding was highly synchronous, with no significant difference in the breeding success between early and late breeders or between pairs breeding in different habitats. We demonstrate for the first time that the A-egg produced by the southern rockhopper penguin has, when alone, the same theoretical intrinsic potential to lead to a fledged chick as the B-egg. In contrast, the hatching success and survival of the B-chick was similar when alone or in a two-egg clutch.