Skua and Penguin: Predator and Prey

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Areas of barren rock and scree around the edge of Antarctica provide a breeding ground for two of the continent's most well-known species of bird: the south polar skua and the Adelie penguin. This book considers the relationship between these two species, taking as its study site Ross Island. The author challenges the traditional view, through detailed observations of the foraging ecology of the skua, that they are totally dependant on penguin eggs and chicks for food. In addition, studies of the impact of skuas on penguin breeding and the extent to which the skua breeding cycle is functionally related to that of the penguin provide further evidence to suggest that the two species occur together independently as a consequence of limited breeding space, rather than as a result of a distinct predator-prey relationship.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...will no doubt assist biologists and ornithologists in their research." Audubon Naturalist Society

"This well-written account details the predator-prey interrelationships between breeding Adélie penguins and South Polar skuas at Cape Bird on Ross Island, Antarctica. Every conceivable aspect of these interrelationships is treated...deserves a place on the shelf of all students of predator-prey relationships." Science & Technology

"This is probably the most detailed account of the interactions between any predator and its prey. Young and his team recorded the activities of skuas in tremendous detail...This is an important reference book for anyone working on penguins or skuas, and it will prove useful to other scientists interested in predator-prey dynamics." Kerry-Jane Wilson, Arctic Vol. 48.1 March 1995

"The overall result is that the reader can trust the conclusions brought forth....I recommend this book highly to anyone studying ecology of the antarctic fauna, predator-prey systems, and particularly for anyone beginning a study on a predator-prey relationship." Arctic and Alpine Research

"...provides a comprehensive summary of some interesting and useful data, and emphasizes the complexity of the skua-penguin association. Perhaps the main value of this lies in demonstrating that there is still great potential for novel and exciting research on this particular predator-prey system." Tony D. Williams, Quarterly Review of Biology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521018135
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/31/2005
  • Series: Studies in Polar Research Series
  • Pages: 472
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. The study area. Ross Island and the Cape Bird penguin colonies; 3. The range of foods available to the skuas at Cape Bird during the breeding season; 4. The biomass of penguin eggs and chicks on the Northern Colony; 5. Factors of penguin biology that constrain or assist skua predation; 6. Description of scavenging and predatory behaviour of skuas and the defensive behaviour of penguins; 7. The diversity and intensity of skua foraging behaviour on the penguin colony; 8. The amount of food taken by the skuas from the penguin colony; 9. The costs and returns of foraging at the colony and at sea; 10. Immediate impact of the contestants on each other; 11. Appreciating the penguins; 12. Associating together. The longer term implications; 13. Synthesis; Appendices; References; Index.

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