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Influence of oceanographic structures on foraging strategies: macaroni penguins at Crozet Islands

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posted on 2023-05-19, 12:32 authored by Bon, C, Della Penna, A, d'Ovidio, F, Arnould, JYP, Poupart, T, Bost, C-A


In the open ocean, eddies and associated structures (fronts, filaments) have strong influences on the foraging activities of top-predators through the enhancement and the distribution of marine productivity, zooplankton and fish communities. Investigating how central place foragers, such as penguins, find and use these physical structures is crucial to better understanding their at-sea distribution. In the present study, we compared the travel heading and speed of the world’s most abundant penguin, the Macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus), with the distribution of surface physical structures (large-scale fronts, eddies and filaments).


The study was performed during December 2012 in the Crozet Archipelago (46.42° S; 51.86° E), South Indian Ocean. Six males at incubation stage were equipped with GPS loggers to get their trajectories. We used Eulerian and Lagrangian methods to locate large-scale fronts, mesoscale eddies (10–100 km) and part of the sub-mesoscale structures (<10 km, filaments) at the surface of the ocean. By comparing the positions of birds and these structures, we show that Macaroni penguins: i) target the sub Antarctic Front; ii) increase their foraging activity within a highly dynamic area, composed of eddy fields and filamentary structures; and iii) travel in the same direction as the predominant currents.


We show that penguins adjust their travel speed and movement during their whole trips in relation with the oceanographic structures visited. At a large scale, we hypothesize that Macaroni penguins target the sub Antarctic Front to find profitable patches of their main prey. At finer scale, Macaroni penguin may adopt a horizontal drifting behavior in strong currents, which could be a way to minimize costs of displacement.


Publication title

Movement Ecology

Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


BioMed Central Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences

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