University of Tasmania
148760 - Site-specific reproductive failure and decline of a population.pdf (319.82 kB)

Site-specific reproductive failure and decline of a population of the endangered yellow-eyed penguin: a case for foraging habitat quality

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 05:39 authored by King, SD, Harper, GA, Wright, JB, Julie McInnesJulie McInnes, van der Lubbe, JE, Dobbins, ML, Murray, SJ
Sub-populations within species can exhibit differing population growth trajectories in relation to one another depending on various environmental factors. In threatened species, negative population growth in some sub-populations can ultimately cause the demise of the species; therefore, understanding causal factors of population change is critical to inform management aimed at reversing population declines. Feral house cats Felis catus are potential predators of Endangered yellow-eyed penguins Megadyptes antipodes and were considered the principal causal factor in the species’ decline on Stewart Island/Rakiura, New Zealand. The number of yellow-eyed penguins breeding on Stewart Island is low relative to the number on close outlying islands, where cats are absent, and a census had recorded few juveniles on Stewart Island, suggesting poor reproductive success. Yellow-eyed penguin breeding attempts on the northern coast of Stewart Island and outlying islands were monitored for 5 yr, but predation by cats was not evident. Instead, disease, probably aggravated by starvation and poor dietary provisioning, was found to be a significant cause of chick mortality on Stewart Island. Reproductive success was consistently low there (0−33%), in contrast to outlying islands (27−76%). Little recruitment was recorded on Stewart Island, and the number of breeding pairs on the northern coast of Stewart Island declined by 27% between 1999 and 2008. Factors unique to the north coast of Stewart Island are believed to be adversely affecting nesting yellow-eyed penguins, as a similar decline was not recorded elsewhere on the island or on outlying islands.


Publication title

Marine Ecology Progress Series








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication

Nordbunte 23, Oldendorf Luhe, Germany, D-21385

Rights statement

© Inter-Research 2012

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of pelagic marine ecosystems; Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in marine environments