Since the 1950s, flipper bands have been used widely to mark penguins (Spheniscidae), but not without concerns regarding possible negative effects on survival and fitness. As part of a demographic study of Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) in the western Ross Sea, Antarctica, we investigated effects of flipper bands on foraging-trip duration and food loads, as well as apparent survival, during four breeding seasons (2000-2003), using mark-recapture and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. Foraging-trip durations were ∼8% (3.5 h) longer, on average, for banded compared with unbanded birds, but the effect varied among years. Food loads did not differ between banded and unbanded birds, but males carried heavier food loads than females. Flipper bands decreased apparent annual survival by 11–13% during 2000-2003, but over a longer time period (1996-2003) we observed high annual variability, including years of high survival for banded birds. Males had slightly higher survival than females in both banded and unbanded birds. Mechanisms resulting in band effects on foraging behavior and survival, the variable effect of bands by season, and the potential ameliorating effect of age or experience on the effects of bands need further investigation in Adélie and other penguin species. We recognize a need to understand and balance the negative consequences of flipper bands for penguins against the beneficial gains in information associated with their use.
Effets du Baguage à l'Aileron sur le Comportement de Recherche Alimentaire et la Survie de Pygoscelis adeliae