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    Delayed laying and prolonged fasting in Adelie penguins Pygoscelis adeliae

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    Joachim Ulbricht and Detlev Zippel (Germany)
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    Observations of nesting Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) were made at Ardley Island during spring 1990 when snow cover was unusually thick at some subcolony sites. Adélie Penguins at these sites had to delay egg laying until the snow melted. Maximum length of fasting periods comprising pre-breeding and incubation was 50 days. Long fasting seemed to have no detrimental effect on breeding. Furthermore, there was no relationship between penguin arrival mass and duration of fast. Even birds with small mass had sufficient reserves to undergo long fasting periods.
    In spring 1990, when we started with a monitoring study for CEMP (CCAMLR 1990) at Ardley Island, there were still high quantities of snow at the subcolony sites. Adélie Penguins at Ardley Island inhabit both small rocky outcrops and flat, stony hillocks (storm bars). The latter had a distinctly thicker snow cover this time so that the pebbles necessary for nest building were unattainable. Consequently, we observed the behaviour of the penguins in this situation, recorded the laying dates and lengths of fasting periods