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C R Biol. 2013 Jan;336(1):1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.crvi.2013.02.002. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

The different breeding strategies of penguins: a review.

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  • 1Université de Strasbourg, IPHC, 23, rue Becquerel, 67087 Strasbourg, France.


The 18 penguin species are exclusively and widely distributed in the Southern hemisphere, from the Equator to the Antarctic continent, and are thus submitted to various ecological constraints in their reproductive strategy. This results in a high variability in all aspects of the breeding biology of the different species. Although penguins appear primarily adapted for a marine existence, they remain dependent on land for breeding, rearing young, and moulting. Here we describe and compare the breeding cycle of all the penguin species, highlighting the characteristics of each species in terms of breeding range, population status, threats induced by environmental changes, duration of the different phases of the breeding cycle, mate fidelity, body mass, body height, egg mass and duration of egg formation. We also focus on the breeding cycle of the genus Aptenodytes, since it largely differs from the breeding cycle of most of the other penguin species.

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