Accessed from Wiki Commons and cropped. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License link at bottom of page. Photographed by Samuel Blanc.


Life History & Reproduction

     Eudyptes chrysocome (Southern Rockhopper penguin) has an interesting and slightly complicated reproduction process. Southern Rockhopper penguins have low reproductive rates, live in pairs, and are monogamous, meaning they have one mate for life. Furthermore, Eudyptes chrysocome has a life span of about ten years. Accessed from flickr. Photographed by David Cook. Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License at bottom of page. Adult penguin guarding its chick.

     To begin reproducing, the female arrives at a colony to mate with a male. About two weeks after mating, the female lays the first of its two eggs. The first egg laid is referred to as the “A-egg”, and the second, larger egg, is the “B-egg”. Offspring formed from the A-egg are usually short-lived because the egg has a high corticosterone concentration level, while the B-egg has normal corticosterone concentration levels. Elevated levels of corticosterone could cause the chick to die as an embryo and if the chick survives, then it is likely to have problems early on in its development, such as growth, which would result in a lower fitness. Therefore, the Southern Rockhopper Penguin raises the B-chick originating from the B-egg, which takes less time to form and hatch.

     The environment, in which the mother breeds, however, determines corticosterone levels. It was found that environmentaPhotographed by Liam Quinn. Licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons License at bottom of page. Rockhopper penguin chick. l breeding conditions within colonies impacted albumen (a protein within the egg) corticosterone deposition. As the environment worsens, more corticosterone is deposited into the A-egg because the A-egg takes longer to form. Corticosterone is passively transferred with poor maternal conditions (Poisbleau et al. 2009; Dehnhard et al. 2013a). Once the eggs are laid, the male spends most of his time guarding the chicks. The female will venture out to find food to bring back to the male and their chicks (Dehnhard et al. 2013a).

     To learn more about the life history and reproduction patterns of the Southern Rockhopper penguin, visit MarineBio and look under the "Life History" section.


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