Poorer breeding by little penguins near Perth, Western Australia is correlated with above average sea surface temperatures and a stronger Leeuwin Current
Cannell, B.L., Chambers, L.E., Wooller, R.D. and Bradley, J.S. (2012) Poorer breeding by little penguins near Perth, Western Australia is correlated with above average sea surface temperatures and a stronger Leeuwin Current. Marine and Freshwater Research, 63 (10). pp. 914-925.
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Using 20 years of data (1986 to 2008), we examined relationships between oceanographic variables (Fremantle sea level (FSL) a proxy for the strength of the Leeuwin Current and sea surface temperature (SST)) and five measures of little penguin, Eudyptula minor, breeding performance near Perth, Western Australia: namely (1) the laying date, (2) the number of chicks produced per pair, (3) the proportion of eggs that hatched, (4) the overall breeding success, defined as the proportion of total eggs laid that resulted in successful fledglings and (5) chick mass at fledging. The next three years of data (2009 to 2011) were used to test the performance of our statistical predictive models. FSL provided more accurate predictions of timing of laying, whereas SST provided more accurate predictions of breeding success. A later end to laying was associated with a high FSL during the summer (December to February) before breeding. Higher SSTs in the pre-breeding period from April to May corresponded to reduced breeding success, with lower fledgling success, fewer chicks per pair and generally a lower mean mass of chicks at fledging. The models predict that future oceanographic warming is expected to reduce the breeding success of this colony of little penguins.
|Publication Type:||Journal Article|
|Murdoch Affiliation:||School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology|
|Copyright:||© 2012 CSIRO|
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