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Megadyptes antipodes

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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

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.
Justification:
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.

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:
Native:
New Zealand
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).

Population Trend: Decreasing

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

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. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 October 2014.
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