Pygoscelis papua 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Sphenisciformes Spheniscidae

Scientific Name: Pygoscelis papua
Species Authority: (Forster, 1781)
Common Name(s):
English Gentoo Penguin
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Identification information: Identification  51-90 cm. The third largest penguin, although body size is highly variable across its range. Males typically larger than females. Black face, head and back. Conspicuous, but variable, white patches above eyes, typically meeting across the crown. Bright red-orange bill with black along the upper mandible and at the tip. Feet, pale whitish-pink to red.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Croxall, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Calvert, R., McClellan, R., O'Brien, A., Symes, A. & Allinson, T
This species qualifies as Near Threatened because, while some populations have apparently increased, rapid declines in some key populations are suspected to be driving a moderately rapid global population decline.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2010 Near Threatened (NT)
2008 Near Threatened (NT)
2004 Near Threatened (NT)
2000 Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Pygoscelis papua has a circumpolar breeding distribution that ranges in latitude from Cape Tuxon on the Antarctic Peninsula (65°16'S) to the Crozet Islands (46°00'S) (Lynch 2012). The three most important locations, containing 80% of the global population, are the Falkland Islands (Malvinas): 115,327 individuals (Clausen and Huin 2003), South Georgia: 98,867 individuals (South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands) (Trathan et al. 1996) and the Antarctic Peninsula (incl. South Shetland Island): 94,751 individuals (Lynch et al. Unpublished). Other breeding sites include Kerguelen Island: 30,000-40,000 individuals (Weimerskirch et al. 1988) and Crozet Island: 9,000 individuals (Jouventin 1994) in the French Southern Territories, Heard Island (to Australia): 16,574 individuals (Woehler 1993), South Orkney Islands: 10,760 individuals (Lynch et al. Unpublished), Macquarie Island (Australia): 3,800 individuals, South Sandwich Islands: 1,572 individuals (Convey et al. 1999) and Marion Island (South Africa): 1,100 (Crawford et al. 2009). Small numbers are also found on Prince Edward Island (South Africa) and on Martillo Island and Islas de los Estados in Argentina (Bingham 1998, Ghys et al. 2008). Populations on sub-Antarctic islands may have decreased substantially in the past—at Bird Island, South Georgia by c.67% in 25 years (J. P. Croxall in litt. 1999), at Marion Island by 11% over the period 1994-1997 (Barnes 2000) and on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) by c.45% from 1932-33 to 1995-95 (Bingham 1998)—but, now appear stable (Trathan et al. 1996, Bingham 2002, Clausen and Huin 2003, Crawford et al. 2009, Forcada and Trathan 2009). Populations may still be declining on Heard Island and on Kerguelen Island (Lescroël and Bost 2006). Populations are increasing at most sites where they are monitored on the Antarctic Peninsula, particularly at those sites at the southern extent of their breeding range (Lynch et al. 2008, Lynch 2012). Populations also appear to be increasing on the South Orkney (Forcada and Trathan 2009) and South Sandwich Islands (Convey et al. 1999). The global population was estimated at 314,000 breeding pairs (Woehler 1993), however, a more recent estimate of 387,000 pairs suggests that the population may be increasing, particularly in the south of its range (Lynch 2012).

Countries occurrence:
Antarctica; Argentina; Chile; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); French Southern Territories; Heard Island and McDonald Islands; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Australia; New Zealand; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Africa
Present - origin uncertain:
Bouvet Island
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 31400
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme 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: Population trends are difficult to establish because of large year-to-year fluctuations in the size of the breeding population, however, it is believed that several populations have experienced significant declines in the past. The global population was estimated at 314,000 breeding pairs (Woehler 1993), however, a more recent estimate of 387,000 pairs suggests that the population may be increasing, particularly in the south of its range (Lynch 2012).

Trend Justification:  Populations on sub-Antarctic islands are thought to have decreased substantially, although fluctuations make it difficult to ascertain long-term trends.

Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation: 100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Nests on flat beaches or among tussock grasses in South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Further south, on the Antarctic Peninsula, nests are typically on low lying gravel beaches and dry moraines. Colonies are much smaller than other Pygoscelids, with the largest including only c. 6,000 breeding pairs (Lynch et al. 2008). Opportunistic feeder, preying predominantly on crustaceans, fish, and squid. Preference for foraging inshore, close to the breeding colony.

Systems: Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 7
Movement patterns: Full Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Historically, egg collection was widespread on the Falkland Islands (Clausen and Pütz 2002), and some legal egg collection still continues (Otley et al. 2004). Increasing oil exploration around the Falkland Islands is a growing concern (Lynch 2012). Disturbance from tourism has been shown to cause decreased breeding productivity (Trathan et al. 2008, Lynch et al. 2009) and the associated marine traffic is likely to impact penguins foraging in inshore waters (Lynch et al. 2010). Interactions with fisheries may also be a problem (Ellis et al. 1998).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
None known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue/extend long-term monitoring of breeding colonies. Minimize disturbance to breeding colonies. Minimize oil and other pollution in breeding and foraging areas.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Pygoscelis papua. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22697755A40173793. . Downloaded on 29 November 2015.
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