Sexual dimorphism and use of morphological measurements to sex adults, immatures and chicks of Rockhopper Penguins
van Noordwijk, Hendrika J.
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Ardea / Nederlandse Ornithologische Unie. - Arnhem
, p. 217-224
University of Antwerp
Following recent phylogenetic work, Rockhopper Penguins were suggested to consist of two or three species. For the Southern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes c. chrysocome, sexual dimorphism has not been studied in detail, and only a few previous studies on penguins have investigated sexual dimorphism in immatures and chicks. Using data in the literature, we examined whether the sexual dimorphism of adults varies among the three taxa of Rockhopper Penguins and then we investigated the most reliable measurements to sex adult Rockhopper Penguins. We observed that bill length is the most useful measurement to separate males from females. To allow for sex discrimination in the field, we also examined a large dataset of Southern Rockhopper Penguins from New Island, Falkland Islands, including adults sexed via observation of behaviour, and immatures and chicks sexed genetically. We found that male adults and immatures were larger than females in bill length and bill depth and, to a lesser degree, in flipper lengths. We thus derived discriminant functions from bill length and bill depth and correctly sexed 96.2% of adults and 91.8% of immatures. In newly hatched chicks, males had a longer bill than females, but sexing was only successful for 63.5% of hatchlings. Just before the creche age (18 and 19 days) and after the pre-fledging moult (55 days and older), all morphological measurements of chicks were significantly different between sexes, and sex determination was successful for 68.2% and 84.3% of chicks in these age groups, respectively. Consistently among age groups, bill length was the most dimorphic character in this population.