How many carats (stones)?
Who needs diamonds? As part of their courtship behaviour, the male adeile penguin, Pygoscelis adeliae, proposes pebbles to the female adelie penguin. According to The Press and Journal, “(Male) Penguins pick up mates thanks to pebbles”.
Why are pebbles so important to these species of penguins? I gathered that it might be because of their physiology and genetic makeup that induces this behavior. The environment they live in may also be a possible factor that contributes to their behavior. Hence, my speculation is that this behavior may be both learned and innate.
It is essential that the Adelie penguin gather stones to build a successful nest and hence, be able produce more surviving young. The reproduction rate is important in increasing the fitness of the Adelie penguin species.
Studies have shown that for Adelie penguins, size and quality of the nest need to be of large dimensions and good construction to ensure good surviving young. Peripheral and isolated nests are susceptible to being attacked and are more likely to crumble during fights, hence causing a loss of the eggs.
The importance of nest building is a reason why these penguins place so much importance on the quality of the stone, so much so that it has to be considered before finding a mating partner.
In BBC News, it was even reported that penguins are turning to “prostitution”, not for money, but for pebbles. Dr Fiona Hunter, a researcher in the Zoology Department at Cambridge University, highlighted the importance of stones by putting it this way: “Stones are the valuable currency in penguin terms,”.
Behavior and Nesting Success Relative to Nest Location in Adelie Penguins by Richard Teneza
URL: http://www.jstor.org.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/stable/pdfplus/1366127.pdf?acceptTC=true (Accessed 09/04/2013)
NEST-SITE SELECTION AMONG ADCLIE,CHINSTRAP AND GENTOO PENGUINS IN MIXED SPECIES ROOKERIES by NICHOLAS J. VOLKMAN AND WAYNE TRIVELPIECE
URL: http://www.jstor.org.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/stable/pdfplus/4161463.pdf (Accessed 10/04/2013)
Penguins in Antartica
Penguins Pick up Mates Thanks to Pebbles
Pick Up a Penguin