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Eudyptula minor 

Scope: Global
Language: English
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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Sphenisciformes Spheniscidae

Scientific Name: Eudyptula minor (Forster, 1781)
Common Name(s):
English Little Penguin, Blue Penguin, Fairy Penguin
Spanish Pingüino azul, Pingüino del hada, Pingüino pequeño
Taxonomic Source(s): Turbott, E.G. 1990. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Agnew, P., Cannell, B., Carlile, N., Carroll, G., Chiaradia, A., Colombelli-Négrel, D., Copley, P., Dann, P., Grosser, S., Holmberg, R., Houston, D., O’Neill, L., Ramirez, F., Sutherland, D., Tennyson, A., Waugh, S., Wilson, K. & Woehler, E.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Chiaradia, A., Ekstrom, J., Moreno, R., Wilson, K.
Justification:
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be stable, with localised decreases in population size driven by human disturbance and climatic variability, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has now been quantified at under 500,000 breeding adults, not approaching the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Endemic to Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, the species occurs from Western Australia (Carnac Island, 32.1210° S, 115.6621° E) to New South Wales (Broughton Island 32.61580E 152.31400). The distribution is not continuous with sections of the southern coast of Australia without occurrence of breeding colonies (see map with colony location and size). In New Zealand, little penguins occur from the Chatham Islands (New Zealand) to mainland New Zealand (including Stewart Island).

Countries occurrence:
Native:
Australia; New Zealand
Vagrant:
Chile
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:6870000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):50
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:

The global population size has been quantified for most sites, with current population estimated of 469,760 breeding adults. This is less than the previous Red List assessments that estimated the total population as under 1,000,000 individuals but was based on non-quantified data. Considering the current estimation, there is an increase of 18% in population size when historic and recent data are compared. However this increase should be interpreted with caution as it is very likely to be related to improved population survey effort rather than an actual increase in population. For sites with current population estimates, 60% of the sites have an “unknown” trend due to data deficiency. Nevertheless, for the sites where data were available, 51% of sites were stable, 29% deteriorating and 20% improving. Fifteen sites are suspected extinct.  




Trend Justification:  There is an increase of 18% in population size when historic and recent data are compared.  For sites with current population estimates, 60% of the sites have an “unknown” trend due to data deficiency. Nevertheless, for the sites where data were available, 51% of sites were stable, 29% deteriorating and 20% improving.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:469760Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

The little penguin breeds during the austral autumn to summer months and are the only truly nocturnal penguin species on land; adults always arrive after dusk and leave before dawn (Klomp and Wooller 1991; Chiaradia et al. 2007; Rodríguez et al. 2016). This species is a generalist feeder with large variability in diet between colonies and even between years at the same colony (Klomp and Wooller 1988; Gales and Pemberton 1990; Cullen et al. 1992; Fraser and Lalas 2004; Chiaradia et al. 2010; Chiaradia et al. 2016). They feed mainly on clupeids such as anchovy Engraulis sp. and sardines Sardinops sagax when feeding chicks but they may also feed on krill Nyctiphanes australis and several species of cephalopods at all stages of breeding (Gales and Pemberton 1990; Cullen et al. 1992; Chiaradia et al. 2016). This variability in diet is also found in their trophic interactions where penguins can reduce the prey trophic range in response to years of low breeding success (Chiaradia et al. 2010).

Penguins typically lay two eggs per clutch (Stahel et al. 1987), and up to three clutches over a breeding season (Johannesen et al. 2003). The penguins exhibit six main breeding stages: courtship, pre-laying exodus, pre-laying, incubation, guard and post-guard (Chiaradia and Kerry 1999); followed by moulting and inter-breeding stages (Salton et al. 2015). When feeding chicks, some parents make more foraging trips than their mates. This situation actually represents the norm (72% of cases), rather than the previously expected equal parenting (Saraux et al. 2011). Individuals can also alternate between two consecutive long foraging trips and several shorter ones throughout the chick rearing period (Saraux et al. 2011). Short trips allow for regular food provisioning of chicks (high feeding frequency and larger meals), whereas longer trips are triggered by a parent’s low body mass and therefore the need to replenish its own energy reserves. Little penguins form groups when crossing the beach to nesting sites and individuals seem to choose their travelling partners (Daniel et al. 2007). When foraging, some individuals can take advantage of manmade features, like ship channels to aid in their foraging (Preston et al. 2008). Breeding age, ranging from 2 to 18+ years, seems to play a crucial role as well, as middle-aged (8-12 years) penguins are better breeders (Nisbet and Dann 2009), employ more effective foraging strategies (Zimmer et al. 2011) and feed in different locations (Pelletier et al. 2014).
Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Generation Length (years):7.6
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Many populations of little penguins are severely threatened by human disturbance such as introduced predators, domestic dogs, roadkill, coastal development, watercraft injuries, oil spills and gillnet fishing in both Australia and New Zealand (Cannel et al. 2016; Chiaradia 2013; Dann 2013). Reduction in prey abundance is another major vulnerability to little penguin populations (Cannel et al. 2016; Chiaradia 2013). Changes in the abundance of major prey can result in a dramatic change in their diet composition and trophic interactions, resulting in increased mortality and decreased breeding success (Dann et al.2000; Chiaradia et al. 2010). A newer and additional challenge for this species is in the fast changing marine and terrestrial environment, particularly in the rapidly warming sea of south eastern Australia (Voice et al. 2006; Wu et al. 2012), where in southwestern Australia the warming sea has been associated with poorer breeding (Cannell et al. 2012). Penguins have been also shown to catch less prey in warmer conditions (Carroll et al. 2016). Oceanographic change may lead to a mismatch between plankton and the small pelagic fish that are also penguin prey (Hinder et al. 2013). Increasing terrestrial temperatures in the spring and summer months can cause fatal hyperthermia in both chicks and adults (Cannell et al. 2011, Cannell et al. 2012, Cannell et al. 2016). This is particularly relevant in those colonies where nesting occurs within the vegetation rather than in burrows as a result of soft, sandy substrate. Remarkably, some of these pressures can be locally offset by a wide range of conservation efforts, such as the case of increasing population size at Phillip Island (Sutherland and Dann 2012), St Kilda (Preston et al. 2010, Preston 2011), Manly (Carlile et al. 2015), Oamaru (Agnew et al. 2016).  Sites without strong conservation measures have experienced severe decreases, where many known breeding colonies no longer exist (Dann 1994; Stevenson and Woehler 2007). Local extinction of many small colonies continues in Australia and New Zealand.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway

The species is the subject of on-going Australian and New Zealand long term research programs with research-lead conservation activities in several sites along the distribution. Many populations of little penguins are severely threatened by human disturbance. Sites without strong conservation measures have experienced severe decrease but some of these pressures have been offset by a wide range of conservation efforts. Several volunteer and research groups actively monitoring and protecting sites in Australia and New Zealand.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Continue programs to control invasive fauna and flora species. Increase population survey and monitoring to assess causes of mortality and reduced breeding success in populations throughout the species range. Design and propose MPAs within foraging zone at key sites. Encourage more involvement of community groups and schools on local population awareness and protection. Determine sub-species and/or sub-populations under pressure and with decreasing population that need local protection and tailored conservation status.

Amended [top]

Amended reason: Assessment Rationale edited.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.2. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.3. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.7. Marine Neritic - Macroalgal/Kelp
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.2. Marine Oceanic - Mesopelagic (200-1000m)
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
12. Marine Intertidal -> 12.1. Marine Intertidal - Rocky Shoreline
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
12. Marine Intertidal -> 12.2. Marine Intertidal - Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
13. Marine Coastal/Supratidal -> 13.1. Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
13. Marine Coastal/Supratidal -> 13.3. Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Sand Dunes
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control
2. Land/water management -> 2.3. Habitat & natural process restoration
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
4. Education & awareness -> 4.1. Formal education
4. Education & awareness -> 4.2. Training
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.2. Policies and regulations
6. Livelihood, economic & other incentives -> 6.1. Linked enterprises & livelihood alternatives
6. Livelihood, economic & other incentives -> 6.3. Market forces
6. Livelihood, economic & other incentives -> 6.5. Non-monetary values

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over part of range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.3. Tourism & recreation areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.3. Temperature extremes
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.3. Indirect ecosystem effects
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.4. Storms & flooding
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.5. Other impacts
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.4. Marine & freshwater aquaculture -> 2.4.3. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Energy production & mining -> 3.1. Oil & gas drilling
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.3. Shipping lanes
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.1. Recreational activities
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.3. Work & other activities
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.1. Increase in fire frequency/intensity
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.3. Other ecosystem modifications
♦ timing:Future ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Vulpes vulpes ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Felis catus ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Canis familiaris ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Cenchrus clandestinus ]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

9. Pollution -> 9.1. Domestic & urban waste water -> 9.1.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

9. Pollution -> 9.2. Industrial & military effluents -> 9.2.1. Oil spills
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

9. Pollution -> 9.4. Garbage & solid waste
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

9. Pollution -> 9.6. Excess energy -> 9.6.1. Light pollution
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

9. Pollution -> 9.6. Excess energy -> 9.6.3. Noise pollution
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

1. Research -> 1.5. Threats

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Cannell, B.L., Chambers, L.E., Wooller, R.D. & Bradley, J.S. 2012. Poorer breeding by little penguins near Perth, Western Australia is correlated with above average sea surface temperatures and a stronger Leeuwin Current. Marine & Freshwater Research 63: 914-925.

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Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Eudyptula minor (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22697805A112478911. . Downloaded on 14 August 2018.
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