As do so many other seabirds, penguins fast when ashore for breeding. For penguins in dense colonies, territory defence seems to imply conflicting energetic requirements because of its assumed high energy cost, when the birds need to limit energy expenditure to cope with their fast. In this context, behavioural time budget over 24 h was investigated during breeding in the king penguin, Aptenodytes putugonicu, by using a remote-controlled videocamera. The comparison of day-night activity was performed in relation to breeding status (incubation vs. brooding) and duration of fasting (beginning vs. end of incubation shift). Five categories of behaviours were quantified: territoly defence, comfort, resting, sleeping and chick-feeding. Breeding king penguins remain active by day as well as by night. Between incubation and brooding we found a three-fold increase in the energy consuming temtory defence, together with a drastic decrease in that posture which corresponds to deep sleep, is. when most energy is saved. These increases in aggressiveness and vigilance may be related to protection of the newly hatched chick. Between the onset and the end of an incubation shift, the time spent in sleep increases three-fold, whereas territory defence remains unchanged. These data for penguins under natural conditions accord with previous studies on captive birds which have shown that an increasing proportion of sleep during the course of fasting may contribute to energy saving. On the other hand, both resting (which is the main component of penguins’time budget; about 65%) and comfort (about 16% of time) show no change either between incubation and brooding or during the course of fasting.
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