Breeding biology of high-latitude Antarctic fulmarine petrels (Procellariidae)

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Journal of Zoology




This paper provides basic information about the breeding biology of four species of Antarctic fulmarine petrels breeding in the Rauer Islands, East Antarctica: Antarctic fulmar Fulmarus glacialoides, Antarctic petrel Thalassoica antarctica, Cape petrel Daption capense, and snow petrel Pagodroma nivea. Timing and duration of the nesting cycle, incubation and nestling periods, and timing of breeding were determined over three consecutive breeding cycles. Comparing these data with those of other populations revealed that the duration of breeding showed little interannual and spatial variation within the four species. The length of the breeding period varied between the species, with incubation period and nesting cycle length positively related to adult body mass. Nestling period length also differed between the species but was unrelated to adult body mass. Breeding period lengths for these fulmarine petrels were shorter than those for other procellarids and albatrosses. Compressed and invariant breeding cycles of Antarctic fulmarine petrels may have evolved in response to a short season which limits breeding and to opportunities presented by highly abundant food sources.