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Titre de la thèse
Impact of extreme climatic events on the foraging behaviour and breeding success of the King Penguin
ResponsablesCharles-André BOST et Kyle ELLIOTT
Manchot royal, changement climatique, comportement d'alimentation, succès reproducteur
Extreme climatic events such as El Niño have strong effects on Antarctic Ocean wildlife, effecting changes in the distribution and abundance of the primary producers that reverberate to the top of the food chain. Monitoring effects on top predators could therefore provide information on the density and distribution of a range of prey, especially if their foraging behaviour and population dynamics are good indicators of the population dynamics of lower trophic levels. The king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is a good candidate for being an indicator species in the Antarctic Ocean: it is a top predator with a circumpolar distribution, and can dive up to 300 m to forage, coming in contact with various prey types. My research consists of examining how the consequences of climatic extremes on the food web affect the breeding success and foraging behaviour of king penguins. I will use 20 years of foraging and breeding data to investigate 1) whether the foraging behaviour of king penguins (diving depth, foraging location) changes during extreme climatic events, and 2) whether reduced prey availability during these events affect the population dynamics of the bird. I predict that king penguins will have to dive deeper and further south in extreme climatic years, as the increase in sea surface temperature will push prey in the colder and deeper southern waters. Furthermore, low prey densities will cause a decrease in breeding success, leading to long-term population decline for the penguin. My research will determine the mechanisms between extreme climatic events, wildlife distribution and fitness, which will help in the design of protected areas that consider the spatial responses of predator-prey relationships to these events.
Rapport de stage
BRISSON-CURADEAU Emile. 2018. Using the thick, billed murre (Uria lomvia) as an indicator species of Arctic marine ecosystems. Master 2, Natural Resource Sciences, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University, Montréal (PDF)