Pinguinus impennis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Charadriiformes Alcidae

Scientific Name: Pinguinus impennis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Great Auk
French Grand Pingouin
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Extinct ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Brooks, T., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S.
This species was formerly distributed across the north Atlantic, but is now Extinct as a result of hunting pressure. The last live bird was seen in 1852.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Pinguinus impennis occurred in naturally scattered colonies (Bengtson 1984) across the North Atlantic until the 19th century, breeding from Canada through Greenland (to Denmark), the Faeroe Islands (to Denmark) and Iceland to Ireland and the UK, with archeological records from the western coast of Europe from European Russia south to France (Bourne 1993), and wintering offshore south to New England, USA, and southern Spain (Montevecchi and Kirk 1996). The last known pair were killed on Eldey Island, Iceland, in 1844, and the last live bird was seen off the Newfoundland Banks in 1852 (Halliday 1979).

Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Canada; Faroe Islands; Greenland; Iceland; Ireland; United Kingdom
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No extant population remains.
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Historically, birds bred only on remote, rocky islands, probably due to early extirpation in more accessible sites (Lyngs 1994). Birds were flightless (Livezey 1988). Immatures probably fed on plankton (Hobson and Montevecchi 1991) while adults dived for fish (Olson et al. 1979).

Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):12
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Details of how it was driven to extinction by hunting for its feathers, meat, fat and oil are well known (Grieve 1885). As birds became more scarce, specimen collecting became the proximate cause of their extinction (Birkhead 1994).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Pinguinus impennis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22694856A93472944. . Downloaded on 25 September 2018.
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