To slide or stride: when should Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) toboggan?.

Wilson, Rory P., Culik, Boris M., Adelung, Dieter, Coria, N. Ruben and Spairani, Hugo J. (1991) To slide or stride: when should Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) toboggan?. Open Access Canadian Journal of Zoology, 69 (1). pp. 221-225. DOI 10.1139/z91-033.

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Abstract

We noted whether Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae), when travelling over snow, walked or tobogganed according to gradient, snow friction, or snow penetrability. Both walking and tobogganing penguins reduced stride length and stride frequency, and thus speed, with increasing uphill gradient although tobogganing birds travelled faster and with fewer leg movements. The incidence of tobogganing increased with decreasing friction between penguin and snow. The percentage of penguins tobogganing was also highly positively correlated with increasing snow penetrability. Penguins walking on soft snow must expend additional energy to pull their feet through the snow, whereas tobogganing birds do not sink. It is to be expected that Adélie penguins would utilize the most energetically favourable form of travel which, under almost all conditions, appeared to be tobogganing. Although tobogganing appears to be energetically more efficient than walking, rubbing the feathers over snow increases the coefficient of friction in unpreeened plumage. We propose that a high incidence of tobogganing necessitates increased feather care and that the decision whether to walk or toboggan probably represents a balance between immediate energy expenditure and subsequent energy and time expended maintaining plumage condition.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1139/z91-033
ISSN: 0008-4301
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2018 10:22
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2018 10:22
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/42201

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