Megadyptes antipodes 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Sphenisciformes Spheniscidae

Scientific Name: Megadyptes antipodes
Species Authority: (Hombron & Jacquinot, 1841)
Common Name(s):
English Yellow-eyed 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: 65 cm. Medium-sized penguin with pale yellow eye. Pale yellow head with black feather shafts. Band of bright yellow from eyes around back of head. Juvenile has greyer head with no band. Similar spp. Distinctive from other crested penguins in range. Voice Slightly musical compared to other penguin species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2b(iii,v)c(iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Houston, D. & McKinlay, B.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Calvert, R., Mahood, S., McClellan, R., Taylor, J.
This species is listed as Endangered because it is confined to a very small range when breeding, in which its forest/scrub habitat has declined in quality. Its population has undergone extreme fluctuations and is now thought to be in overall decline.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2010 Endangered (EN)
2008 Endangered (EN)
2007 Endangered (EN)
2005 Endangered (EN)
2004 Endangered (EN)
2000 Endangered (EN)
1996 Vulnerable (VU)
1994 Vulnerable (VU)
1988 Threatened (T)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Megadyptes antipodes is endemic to New Zealand where it breeds on the South Island's south-east coast (523 pairs in 2010-2011 [D. Houston in litt. 2012]), Stewart Island and offshore islands of Stewart Island (220-400 pairs in 1994, dropping to 178 pairs in 1999-2001 [Massaro and Blair 2003]), Auckland Islands (520-570 pairs) and Campbell Islands (405 pairs) (Moore 2001, D. Houston in litt. 2007). Two severe mortality events in 1986 and 1990 each halved the number of South Island pairs, and in 2004 50% of chicks in South Island were killed by diptheritic stomatisis (D. Houston in litt. 2007). However, numbers have recovered to 1980 levels (D. Houston in litt. 2007). The Catlins population (south-east coast of South Island) may have declined by 75% since the 1940s (Williams 1995, Heather and Robertson 1997). Numbers of individuals on Campbell Island declined between 1987 and 1998 (Moore et al. 2002). Adults are sedentary, but juveniles disperse north as far as the Cook Strait (Marchant and Higgins 1990).

Countries occurrence:
New Zealand
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2: 380
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 11-100
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: Moore (1992) estimated a total population of 5,930-6,970 birds in 1988/1989, comprising 3,560-4,180 breeders and 2,370-2,790 non-breeders (McKinlay 2001).

Trend Justification:  The species is thought to be declining overall as a result of a number of threatening processes, principally introduced predators, habitat conversion and disturbance. Although survey results from South Island are not indicative of declines (but rather fluctuations), there is evidence of declines on Stewart Island (D. Houston in litt. 2012).

Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 3500-4200 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes
Extreme fluctuations: Yes Population severely fragmented: No
No. of subpopulations: 2-100 Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: On islands it usually nests in forest, while in the South Island it tends to nest in scrub remnants (Marchant and Higgins 1990). Nests must have surrounding vegetation that conceals them from visual contact with conspecifics for successful breeding (Seddon and Davis 1989). It is a solitary breeder. Two eggs are laid in mid-September to mid-October, with hatching occurring at the beginning of November. Chicks fledge from mid-February to mid-March (Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust in litt. 2009). It feeds primarily on red cod, opal fish, sprat (van Heezik 1990), silversides, ahuru, blue cod and squid (Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust in litt. 2009). The species's generation length is estimated to be 5-7 years (Ellis et al. 1998).

Systems: Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 10.2
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Introduced ferret Mustela furo, stoat M. erminea and cats are major predators in the South Island. On Stewart Island, the level of threat posed by cats is unclear because of a high rate of chick mortality through starvation and disease (King 2008). Cats are present on Auckland Island, but are absent from Campbell Island, Codfish Island and Enderby Island (D. Houston in litt. 2012). Predation by pigs on the main Auckland Islands is known to occur (B. McKinlay per D. Houston in litt. 2012), but the impact is not known and could be significant. Rogue female Hooker's sea lions eat 20-30 birds annually on the Otago Peninsula (Lalas et al. 2007). Population crashes may be due to avian malaria or biotoxins (Anon 2004), and food shortages due to sea temperature changes may also be a periodic problem (Taylor 2000). Disease appears to be a major problem in some populations in some years, with diptheritic stomatisis (caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium amycolatum) and a Leucocytozoon blood parasite (formerly only known from Fiordland penguins) major causes of mortality for chicks (Houston 2005, Hill et al. 2007). Human disturbance, even from tourists at breeding colonies, negatively affects fledgling weight and probability of survival (McClung et al. 2004). Drowning in fishing nets and accidental fires are additional known threats (Rance 1995).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
A wide range of research projects has been completed in the South Island. The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust was formed to raise awareness and funds. Many mainland sites have been fenced to minimise trampling by farm stock. Predator trapping is intensive during the breeding season in several South Island sites, and habitat is being restored (Heather and Robertson 1997, Ellis et al. 1998). Distribution data were in the process of being published in early 2012 (D. Houston in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Obtain accurate census data for the Auckland Islands. Census South Island colonies every five years, and study sites annually (Taylor 2000). Eradicate predators from Auckland Islands. Investigate the impact of commercial fishing activity on Yellow-eyed Penguins (set-netting and because of evidence that bottom disturbance by trawling/dredging may influence penguin behaviour and food quality). Regulate tourist access to breeding colonies on South Island.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Megadyptes antipodes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22697800A40186242. . Downloaded on 28 November 2015.
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