Body Girth as an Alternative to Body Mass for Establishing Condition Indexes in Field Studies

A Validation in the King Penguin

Vincent A. Viblanc*, Pierre Bize, Francois Criscuolo, Maryline Le Vaillant, Claire Saraux, Sylvia Pardonnet, Benoit Gineste, Marion Kauffmann, Onesime Prud'homme, Yves Handrich, Sylvie Massemin, Rene Groscolas, Jean-Patrice Robin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Body mass and body condition are often tightly linked to animal health and fitness in the wild and thus are key measures for ecophysiologists and behavioral ecologists. In some animals, such as large seabird species, obtaining indexes of structural size is relatively easy, whereas measuring body mass under specific field circumstances may be more of a challenge. Here, we suggest an alternative, easily measurable, and reliable surrogate of body mass in field studies, that is, body girth. Using 234 free-living king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) at various stages of molt and breeding, we measured body girth under the flippers, body mass, and bill and flipper length. We found that body girth was strongly and positively related to body mass in both molting (R-2 = 0.91) and breeding (R-2 = 0.73) birds, with the mean error around our predictions being 6.4%. Body girth appeared to be a reliable proxy measure of body mass because the relationship did not vary according to year and experimenter, bird sex, or stage within breeding groups. Body girth was, however, a weak proxy of body mass in birds at the end of molt, probably because most of those birds had reached a critical depletion of energy stores. Body condition indexes established from ordinary least squares regressions of either body girth or body mass on structural size were highly correlated (r(s) = 0.91), suggesting that body girth was as good as body mass in establishing body condition indexes in king penguins. Body girth may prove a useful proxy to body mass for estimating body condition in field investigations and could likely provide similar information in other penguins and large animals that may be complicated to weigh in the wild.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-542
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Volume85
Issue number5
Early online date7 Aug 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • APTENODYTES-PATAGONICUS
  • REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS
  • GROUND-SQUIRRELS
  • LIFE-HISTORY
  • ENERGY
  • BIRDS
  • MOLT
  • RESIDUALS
  • DYNAMICS
  • EMPEROR

Cite this

Body Girth as an Alternative to Body Mass for Establishing Condition Indexes in Field Studies : A Validation in the King Penguin. / Viblanc, Vincent A.; Bize, Pierre; Criscuolo, Francois; Le Vaillant, Maryline; Saraux, Claire; Pardonnet, Sylvia; Gineste, Benoit; Kauffmann, Marion; Prud'homme, Onesime; Handrich, Yves; Massemin, Sylvie; Groscolas, Rene; Robin, Jean-Patrice.

In: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, Vol. 85, No. 5, 2012, p. 533-542.

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

Viblanc, VA, Bize, P, Criscuolo, F, Le Vaillant, M, Saraux, C, Pardonnet, S, Gineste, B, Kauffmann, M, Prud'homme, O, Handrich, Y, Massemin, S, Groscolas, R & Robin, J-P 2012, 'Body Girth as an Alternative to Body Mass for Establishing Condition Indexes in Field Studies: A Validation in the King Penguin', Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, vol. 85, no. 5, pp. 533-542. https://doi.org/10.1086/667540
Viblanc, Vincent A. ; Bize, Pierre ; Criscuolo, Francois ; Le Vaillant, Maryline ; Saraux, Claire ; Pardonnet, Sylvia ; Gineste, Benoit ; Kauffmann, Marion ; Prud'homme, Onesime ; Handrich, Yves ; Massemin, Sylvie ; Groscolas, Rene ; Robin, Jean-Patrice. / Body Girth as an Alternative to Body Mass for Establishing Condition Indexes in Field Studies : A Validation in the King Penguin. In: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 2012 ; Vol. 85, No. 5. pp. 533-542.
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AU - Bize, Pierre

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AU - Le Vaillant, Maryline

AU - Saraux, Claire

AU - Pardonnet, Sylvia

AU - Gineste, Benoit

AU - Kauffmann, Marion

AU - Prud'homme, Onesime

AU - Handrich, Yves

AU - Massemin, Sylvie

AU - Groscolas, Rene

AU - Robin, Jean-Patrice

N1 - Acknowledgments This research was supported by the French Polar Institute (Institut Paul Emile Victor) as part of research project 119 and by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRSINEE). Two anonymous reviewers provided insightful comments on the study. Logistical support was provided by Terres Australes et Antarctiques Franc¸aises. V.A.V. was the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from the Fyssen Foundation.

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N2 - Body mass and body condition are often tightly linked to animal health and fitness in the wild and thus are key measures for ecophysiologists and behavioral ecologists. In some animals, such as large seabird species, obtaining indexes of structural size is relatively easy, whereas measuring body mass under specific field circumstances may be more of a challenge. Here, we suggest an alternative, easily measurable, and reliable surrogate of body mass in field studies, that is, body girth. Using 234 free-living king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) at various stages of molt and breeding, we measured body girth under the flippers, body mass, and bill and flipper length. We found that body girth was strongly and positively related to body mass in both molting (R-2 = 0.91) and breeding (R-2 = 0.73) birds, with the mean error around our predictions being 6.4%. Body girth appeared to be a reliable proxy measure of body mass because the relationship did not vary according to year and experimenter, bird sex, or stage within breeding groups. Body girth was, however, a weak proxy of body mass in birds at the end of molt, probably because most of those birds had reached a critical depletion of energy stores. Body condition indexes established from ordinary least squares regressions of either body girth or body mass on structural size were highly correlated (r(s) = 0.91), suggesting that body girth was as good as body mass in establishing body condition indexes in king penguins. Body girth may prove a useful proxy to body mass for estimating body condition in field investigations and could likely provide similar information in other penguins and large animals that may be complicated to weigh in the wild.

AB - Body mass and body condition are often tightly linked to animal health and fitness in the wild and thus are key measures for ecophysiologists and behavioral ecologists. In some animals, such as large seabird species, obtaining indexes of structural size is relatively easy, whereas measuring body mass under specific field circumstances may be more of a challenge. Here, we suggest an alternative, easily measurable, and reliable surrogate of body mass in field studies, that is, body girth. Using 234 free-living king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) at various stages of molt and breeding, we measured body girth under the flippers, body mass, and bill and flipper length. We found that body girth was strongly and positively related to body mass in both molting (R-2 = 0.91) and breeding (R-2 = 0.73) birds, with the mean error around our predictions being 6.4%. Body girth appeared to be a reliable proxy measure of body mass because the relationship did not vary according to year and experimenter, bird sex, or stage within breeding groups. Body girth was, however, a weak proxy of body mass in birds at the end of molt, probably because most of those birds had reached a critical depletion of energy stores. Body condition indexes established from ordinary least squares regressions of either body girth or body mass on structural size were highly correlated (r(s) = 0.91), suggesting that body girth was as good as body mass in establishing body condition indexes in king penguins. Body girth may prove a useful proxy to body mass for estimating body condition in field investigations and could likely provide similar information in other penguins and large animals that may be complicated to weigh in the wild.

KW - APTENODYTES-PATAGONICUS

KW - REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS

KW - GROUND-SQUIRRELS

KW - LIFE-HISTORY

KW - ENERGY

KW - BIRDS

KW - MOLT

KW - RESIDUALS

KW - DYNAMICS

KW - EMPEROR

U2 - 10.1086/667540

DO - 10.1086/667540

M3 - Editorial

VL - 85

SP - 533

EP - 542

JO - Physiological and Biochemical Zoology

JF - Physiological and Biochemical Zoology

SN - 1522-2152

IS - 5

ER -