Patterns of egg laying and breeding success in Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) at Punta San Juan, Peru

Rosana Paredes, Carlos B. Zavalaga, Daryl J. Boness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


We analyzed patterns of egg laying and breeding frequency of Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) between 1993 and 1997 at Punta San Juan, Peru. Egg-laying extended from mid-March to the first week of December, showing two well-defined peaks in April and August-September. The extended breeding period of these birds was the result of individuals having a second clutch. About half of the females (n =189) had two clutches per year, most of which were double broods (73%). The date of completion and outcome of reproduction, or whether a change of mates occurred from the previous year, did not affect timing of egg laying. The majority of first clutches (62%) were laid in April each year. Two-clutch breeders that started laying eggs early in April had a higher breeding success than those starting in late April, and double brooders had greater success than single brooders. Two-clutch breeders started to lay eggs earlier than single-clutch breeders. Taking into account that a penguin breeding cycle (from egg laying to fledging) lasts ∼4 months, laying eggs early in April increases the chance of rearing two successful broods per year. During three consecutive years, females tended to have two clutches instead of only one clutch and an average breeding success of 4.54 fledglings over 3 years. Having as many clutches as possible when conditions are favorable appears to be a strategy used by Humboldt Penguins to maximize their lifetime reproductive success within a productive but unpredictable environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-250
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


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