Chick-rearing Crozet shags (Phalacrocorax melanogenis) display sex-specific foraging behaviour
We compared, for the first time the foraging ecology of both sexes of the blue-eyed Crozet shag (Phalacrocorax melanogenis), using ventrally attached time depth recorders to investigate differences in time-budget and diving behaviour between the sexes during the chick-rearing. Males were the only ones to dive over 55 m. Females dived mostly between 15 and 35 m, a zone poorly used by males. Females foraged mostly in the morning and males in the afternoon. Females also spent one hour longer diving per day compared to males. There were differences in diving strategies and diet, indicating that both sexes targeted essentially the same prey, but of different sizes, males specializing in bigger fish. Although the relationship between sexual dimorphism and diving depth was positive (larger animals diving deeper), evidence suggests that body size (in terms of oxygen storage capacity) is not sufficient to explain so many differences in foraging ecology. Instead, we propose prey size (possibly driven by a limitation of prey handling ability in relation to beak size) could be an essential factor in shaping the male/female behavioural segregation in the Crozet shag; future studies should concentrate on this particular aspect.(Published Online February 28 2007)
(Received June 12 2006)
(Accepted September 12 2006)
Key Words: blue-eyed shags; diving behaviour; ecological selection; niche divergence; sexual dimorphism; time-budget.