We used satellite telemetry methods to study macaroni penguins at South Georgia to determine how they ranged from their colonies during the early part of their breeding season at a time when they are constrained to return to their chick on a near-daily basis. The principal objectives of this study were to examine whether animals exploit major oceanographic features where prey may be more predictable; whether animals from one colony forage in separate locations to those from nearby colonies; or, whether animals range evenly over the available area. Results show that animals did not range evenly, that animals from one colony tended to forage in locations separate to those used by animals from nearby colonies (or at least overlap was restricted), and that though birds from some colonies foraged within waters influenced by major oceanographic features such as the southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current front, not all birds in the region focused on such areas as some birds foraged in other oceanographic contexts. The results from this study highlight the complexity of foraging dynamics for colonially nesting seabirds; they also help inform management models currently being developed for Antarctic krill fisheries, a potential competitor for the main prey of macaroni penguins.
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