Long walk home: Magellanic penguins have strategies that lead them to areas where they can navigate most efficiently
byFlavio Quintana, Agustina Gómez‐Laich, Richard Gunner, Carlos Duarte, et al
Quintana, F., Gómez-Laich, A., Gunner, R.M., Gabelli, F., Omo, G.D., Duarte, C., Brogger, M. and Wilson, R.P., 2022. Long walk home: Magellanic penguins have strategies that lead them to areas where they can navigate most efficiently. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 289(1976), p.20220535.
Understanding how animals move in dense environments where vision is compromised is a major challenge. We used GPS and dead-reckoning to examine the movement of Magellanic penguins commuting through vegetation that precluded long-distance vision. Birds leaving the nest followed the shortest, quickest route to the sea (the ‘ideal path’, or 'I-path') but return tracks depended where the birds left the water. Penguins arriving at the beach departure spot mirrored the departure. Most of those landing at a distance from the departure spot travelled slowly, obliquely to the coast at a more acute angle than a beeline trajectory to the nest. On crossing their I-path, these birds then followed this route quickly to their nests. This movement strategy saves birds distance, time and energy compared to a route along the beach and the into the colony on the I-track and saves time and energy compared to a beeline trajectory which necessitates slow travel in unfamiliar areas. This suggests that some animals adopt tactics that take them to an area where their navigational capacities are enhanced for efficient travel in challenging environments.