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Diving Behavior of the Red-Legged Cormorant in Southeastern Patagonia, Argentina

Esteban Frere, Flavio Quintana and Patricia Gandini
The Condor
Vol. 104, No. 2 (May, 2002), pp. 440-444
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1370047
Page Count: 5
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Diving Behavior of the Red-Legged Cormorant in Southeastern Patagonia, Argentina
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Abstract

We studied the diving behavior of Red-legged Cormorants (Phalacrocorax gaimardi) in Patagonia, Argentina, using VHF radio-transmitters deployed during incubation. Red-legged Cormorants made foraging trips in inshore waters less than 15 m deep. Mean dive duration was 26.8 ± 2.0 sec while mean time at surface was 9.2 ± 0.9 sec (n = 2217 dives). The birds spent 74% of their foraging time underwater. Diving efficiency was different among individuals, and was among the highest reported for the Phalacrocoracidae. Dive variables were correlated with the height of the tide, suggesting that the birds forage on the seabed. Red-legged Cormorants were efficient divers, investing most of their feeding time underwater and foraging in shallow waters, maximizing bottom time. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that Red-legged Cormorant diving behavior is strongly influenced by a combination of environmental variables (bottom heterogeneity and high tide width) characteristic of the south coast of Patagonia. /// Se estudió el comportamiento de buceo del Phalacrocorax gaimardi en Patagonia, Argentina, usando transmisores VHF instalados durante el periodo de la incubación. P. gaimardi realizó sus viajes de alimentación en áreas costeras poco profundas (<15 m). La duración media del buceo fue 26.8 ± 2.0 seg y el tiempo medio en superficie de 9.2 ± 0.9 seg (n = 2217). Las aves pasaron bajo el agua un 74% de su tiempo de alimentación, mostrando una de las eficiencias de buceo más altas mencionadas para los Phalacrocoracidae. Los parámetros de buceo se correlacionaron con la altura de la marea, sugiriendo que las aves se alimentaron en el fondo marino. Los individuos de P. gaimardi fueron eficientes buceadores, invirtiendo la mayoría de su tiempo de alimentación debajo del agua en aguas someras, maximizando el tiempo en el fondo marino. Nuestros resultados apoyan la hipótesis que P. gaimardi tiene un comportamiento de buceo que responde a las características ambientales de la costa sur de la Patagonia (heterogeneidad del fondo marino y grandes amplitudes de marea).

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