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Energetics and physiology of a diving bird; the use of heart rate to estimate field metabolism of king penguins


Research objectives and content
King penguins are one of the top predators in the marine ecosystem and represent a significant proportion of the avian biomass of the Antarctic region. To obtain food for their chicks, they forage some 300-1000 km away from their breeding sites and dive to depths of up to 300 m and for as long as 7.5 minutes. The physiological adaptation required to perform such outstanding behaviour are not fully understood. Data logging equipment and technique recently developed at Birmingham University enable depth, body temperature and heart rate to be obtain from free ranging aquatic birds. Heart rate is used to give an estimate of energy expenditure during the various types of behaviour. Such knowledge of activity-specific energy budgets and physiological data are essential for the construction of more accurate models for management of the marine resources in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic areas, in addition to explaining why penguins are such accomplished divers.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
By working at Birmingham, I will be trained to use the most recent data logging equipment available for the study of the energetics and physiology of animals in their natural environment. In addition, I will be trained to analyse the complex data sets collected by the data loggers and in relating these to the behaviour of the animals (foraging, fasting, incubation, chick rearing) and the hostile environment in which they live. Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)


B15 2TT Birmingham
United Kingdom

Participants (1)

Not available