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


King, SD and Harper, GA and Wright, JB and McInnes, JC and van der Lubbe, JE and Dobbins, ML and Murray, SJ, Site-specific reproductive failure and decline of a population of the endangered yellow-eyed penguin: a case for foraging habitat quality, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 467 pp. 233-244. ISSN 0171-8630 (2012) [Refereed Article]

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© Inter-Research 2012

DOI: doi:10.3354/meps09969


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Megadyptes antipodes, feral cat, population decline, breeding success, chick mortality, starvation, disease, ‘junk-food’ hypothesis
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Population ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of pelagic marine ecosystems
UTAS Author:McInnes, JC (Dr Julie McInnes)
ID Code:148760
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2022-02-07
Last Modified:2022-03-04
Downloads:8 View Download Statistics

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