Seabird Abstracts

Finding your mate in a seabird colony: contrasting strategies of

the Guillemot Uria aalge and King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus

Lengagne T, Harris MP, Wanless S & Slater PJB (2004) Bird Study 51(1):25-33

CAPSULE King Penguins recognise their mates by voice, but Guillemots do not need acoustic cues even thought there calls show individual variation.
AIMS To determine whether the structure of Guillemot calls could allow individual recognition, as with King Penguin, and whether acoustic clues are used to locate mates among a dense mass of co specifics at a colony.
METHODS Observation were made on breeding Guillemots and King Penguins. Calls made by birds returning to their mates were recorded, the signals digitized and the calls analysed. Calls were later played back to the mates of the birds concerned and the effects noted on both them and their neighbours.
RESULTS Both Guillemots and King Penguins emitted calls on return to the breeding site which contained individual signatures and where therefore potentially useful for mate recognition. In King Penguins, auditory recognition was essential for finding a mate, whereas in Guillemots most of the arriving birds located their mate in a dense crowd of co specifics without the help of acoustic signals. Guillemots could differentiate neighbours from strangers without auditory cues.
CONCLUSIONS Calls are essential for the successful identification of mates by King Penguins but not by Guillemots.

Keywords: Uria; Aptenodytes; individual recognition; colonial breeding; acoustic communication; topographic cues; seabird; murre; Guillemot; King Penguin


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