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Eudyptes moseleyi

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES SPHENISCIFORMES SPHENISCIDAE

Scientific Name: Eudyptes moseleyi
Species Authority: Mathews & Iredale, 1921
Common Name(s):
English Northern Rockhopper Penguin
Taxonomic Notes: Eudyptes chrysocome (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into E. chrysocome and E. moseleyi following Jouventin et al. (2006) on the basis of clear morphological, vocal and genetic terms, and this treatment has been accepted here following a review by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group. However, although E. filholi has been proposed as a split from E. chrysocome by Banks et al. (2006), both the sample sizes and the degree of morphological difference are small and this view is not accepted here.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2acde+3cde+4acde ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Cuthbert, R. & Hilton, G.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., McClellan, R., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A., Allinson, T
Justification:
This species has been classified as Endangered owing to very rapid population decreases over the last three generations (30 years) throughout its range. Precise reasons for the declines are poorly known, but changes in sea temperature, competition and incidental capture in fisheries and introduced predators are all likely to be implicated.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Eudyptes moseleyi is found in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean. It has a restricted breeding range, occurring on just seven islands with a total land area of 250 km2. The majority are found on Gough Island and islands in the Tristan da Cunha group (St Helena to UK), with 83,000 pairs on Middle Island (2009), 64,700 pairs on Gough (2006), 25,000 pairs on Nightingale (2009), 54,000 pairs on Inaccessible (2009) and 6,700 pairs on Tristan (2009) (BirdLife International 2010, BirdLife International 2012). The rest of the population is found in the India Ocean with 24,890 pairs on Amsterdam Island and 9,023 pairs on St Paul Island (French Southern Territories). Early records indicate that millions of penguins used to occur on both Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island. Approximately 2 million pairs (98%) were lost from Gough Island between 1955 and 2006 and Tristan da Cunha is thought to have held hundreds of thousands of pairs in the 1870s, which were reduced to around 5,000 pairs by 1955 (Cuthbert et al. 2009). The breeding colonies on Amsterdam and St Paul Islands have reduced in size by 40% (Guinard et al. 1998). Population modelling, based on those breeding sites that have been accurately surveyed, indicates that over the past 37 years (= 3 generations) the number of Northern Rockhopper Penguins has declined by 57% (Birdlife International 2010).

Countries:
Native:
French Southern Territories; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated at around 265,000 breeding pairs (Birdlife International 2010, BirdLife International 2012). The majority are found on Gough Island and islands in the Tristan da Cunha group (St Helena to UK), with 83,000 pairs on Middle Island (2009), 64,700 pairs on Gough (2006), 25,000 pairs on Nightingale (2009), 54,000 pairs on Inaccessible (2009) and 6,700 pairs on Tristan (2009) (BirdLife International 2010, BirdLife International 2012). The rest of the population is found in the India Ocean with 24,890 pairs on Amsterdam Island (1993) and 9,023 pairs on St Paul Island (1993) (French Southern Territories). Several populations have experienced major long-term population crashes. Approximately 2 million pairs (98%) were lost from Gough Island between 1955 and 2006 and Tristan da Cunha is thought to have held hundreds of thousands of pairs in the 1870s, which were reduced to around 5,000 pairs by 1955 (Cuthbert et al. 2009). The breeding colonies on Amsterdam and St Paul Islands have reduced in size by 40% (Guinard et al. 1998). Population modelling, based on those breeding sites that have been accurately surveyed, indicates that over the past 37 years (= 3 generations) the number of Northern Rockhopper Penguins has declined by 57% (Birdlife International 2010).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Adults arrive at the breeding colonies in late July and August. Nests are located in a variety of habitats ranging from open boulder-strewn beaches on Gough Island to among stands of tussock grass (mainly Spartina arundinacea) on Nightingale and Inaccessible islands (Cuthbert 2012). They feed mainly on krill. Other prey items include other crustaceans, squid, octopus and fish (Williams 1995).

Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Egg collection was common at some colonies until the 1950s, such as on Tristan da Cunha, and may continue on Nightingale, perhaps causing decreases (Richardson 1984, P. G. Ryan in litt. 1999). Penguins were taken historically as bait for use in crab pots at a number of sites, including at St Paul (Indian Ocean) and Tristan da Cunha. The only reported cases of major predation by invasive species are feral pigs on Tristan and Inaccessible (where pigs were eradicated in 1873 and 1930, respectively). Domestic and feral dogs were also reported to be a problem on Tristan da Cunha (BirdLife International 2010). Food supplies may be affected by squid fisheries, climate change and shifts in marine food webs (Cunningham and Moors 1994, Guinard et al. 1998, Hilton et al. 2006). Increasing disturbance and pollution results from ecotourism and fishing (Ellis et al. 1998). Driftnet fishing and rock-lobster fisheries have caused significant mortality (Ryan and Cooper 1991, P. G. Ryan in litt. 1999). One possible ‘top-down’ effect on the eudyptid penguins is competition with pinnipeds–especially subantarctic fur seals Arctocephalus tropicalis (Barlow et al. 2002). In early 2011, a cargo ship ran aground on Nightingale Island. The resultant oil spill reached Inaccessible Island and Tristan more than 30km away. Early indications are that the impact on the breeding population has not been as severe as initially feared (BirdLife International 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Regular monitoring is, or will be, undertaken on Tristan da Cunha, Gough, Amsterdam and St Paul Islands (Cuthbert and Sommer 2004, Cuthbert and Sommer 2004). Several ecological and demographic studies have been undertaken (Ellis et al. 1998, Guinard et al. 1998). Many islands with breeding colonies are reserves. An International Species Action Plan and a series of Regional Action Plans have been developed (BirdLife International 2010).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue or start to monitor all populations to assess trends. Conduct long-term demographic studies to understand the causes of current decline (BirdLife International 2010). Conduct research into spatial and temporal links between population trends, sea surface temperature and primary productivity (BirdLife International 2010). Conduct studies to assess interactions with commercial fisheries (Ryan and Cooper 1991). Study the potential impacts of climate change. Assess the threat from introduced predators.


Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Eudyptes moseleyi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 October 2014.
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