oa African Zoology - Influence of hatching order and brood size on growth in jackass penguins

Volume 26, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



Jackass penguins Spheniscus demersus hatch two different-sized eggs asynchronously: the second-hatched chick, being, on average, 59% of the weight of the first-hatched chick on hatching. We examined the effect of hatching order on growth rates of mass, culmen length and culmen depth by comparing: (i) growth rates of first- and second-hatched chicks, and (ii) chicks from experimentally synchronized broods to chicks from normal asynchronous broods. Only growth rates in mass showed significant variation. Within a brood, B chicks grew more slowly than A chicks. The effect of synchronizing a brood was to lower the growth rate of both chicks to that of a B chick, suggesting that equal-sized siblings feed less efficiently. Chicks hatching from larger A eggs, that had been synchronized for age and size with chicks from B eggs, did not grow faster, indicating that chicks hatching from A and B eggs do not have intrinsically different growth rates. Single-chick nests result usually from egg infertility. Singletons showed only a non-significant trend towards faster growth in mass than offspring in two-chick broods, even though food availability in one-chick nests should be better than in two-chick nests. Overall, hatching order had more impact on growth rates of mass than did brood size or egg dimensions.

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