0 Parent-Chick Individual Recognition in the Aclélie Penguin


University of Wisconsin (Madison). During the 1965-1966 and 1967-1968 austral ... Upon arrival, the parent goes to its now aban- doned territory and vocalizes.

Parent-Chick Individual Recognition in the Aclélie Penguin DAVID H. THOMPSON and JOHN T. EMLEN Department of Zoology University of Wisconsin (Madison) During the 1965-1966 and 1967-1968 austral summer seasons, studies were undertaken at Hallett Station to determine how Adélie penguin chicks and their parents establish contact under the crowded conditions and confusion of a crèche-stage Adélie penguin colony. Attention was focused on the development of the ability to discriminate at the individual level in both adults and chicks. Various forms of cross-fostering experiments demonstrated that individual recognition begins to develop during the three weeks after hatching, when the chicks are confined largely to their nests and are attended continually by one or the other of their parents. During the first week after hatching, the chicks are inactive, and the parents are quite indiscriminating. The first rejection of foster chicks, indicative of a parent's ability to identify its own young, occurs at approximately eight days of age. The incidence of such rejections increases subsequently until, by the 17th day, nearly all experimental introductions are rejected. Fear, aggression, and vocal displays appear in penguin chicks during this stage of their development and figure importantly in the formation of exclusive family bonds. Chicks leave their nests permanently when they are about 21 days old, and for the next five weeks congregate with neighbor chicks in clusters or crèches during the long hours when their parents are away at sea. The return of an adult to the colony during the crèche stage is followed by a series of interactions before the food is finally delivered to the proper chick or chicks. The stages of interaction are as follows: 1. Upon arrival, the parent goes to its now abandoned territory and vocalizes. 2. The chick or chicks belonging to the vocalizing adult immediately approach the site. 3. The parent initiates mutual vocal display with any chicks that approach it, then drives away chicks other than its own. 4. The parent runs off, with the persistent chick or chicks in pursuit. The vigorous "feeding chases" (so named because most feeding occurs during intervals in the chase) loop back and forth, often covering several hundred meters. Less persistent chicks, including strange individuals, generally drop behind and are lost. 132

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The vigorous feeding chases loop back and forth, often covering several hundred meters.

5. Should the parent and persistently pursuing chicks loose contact with one another, both return to the nest site, where contact is reestablished by some of the steps outlined above. This rather complex sequence of behaviors apparently ensures, by means of redundancy, that an adult will deliver food only to its own young. ANTARCTIC JOURNAL

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