Overview

Brief Summary

Description

The yellow-eyed penguin is one of the most endangered of all penguin species (3). These birds are slate grey with a white breast. As their common name suggests they have yellow eyes, accentuated by the yellow band that runs from the eyes around the back of the head (4). Males and females are identical but juveniles lack the yellow eyes and bands of older birds (2). The Maori name for these birds is 'Hoiho', which means 'the noise shouter' in reference to their shrill call (5).
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Biology

Yellow-eyed penguins are not particularly sociable, breeding in spaced-out territories in the forest rather than the close-knit colonies of other species (3). Pairs are monogamous and stay together for life. The breeding season is particularly long, beginning with courtship in August; the clutch of two eggs is laid in mid-September to mid-October on a nest constructed from sticks (2). Both parents help to incubate the eggs, which can take up to two months. For the next six weeks the adults will take it in turns to stay with the chick whilst the other forages for food (2). Penguins moult once a year but during this time they need to remain on land while the feathers are replaced (3). The three-week moult takes place in February and March following the fledging of the chicks. Penguins need to accumulate considerable resources before this takes place, as they can loose up to four kilograms of body weight during the moult (2). Yellow-eyed penguins feed on a variety of fish including red cod, opal fish, sprat and silversides. They tend to forage within 15 kilometres (2) of the shore and can dive up to 160 metres (3).
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Distribution

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).

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Range

Auckland I., Stewart I., Campbell I. and South I. (New Zealand).

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Geographic Range

Megadyptes antipodes is found in the New Zealand sub Antarctic regions. It is found on the southeast coast of South Island and in the coastal forests of Stewart Island. It can also be found on Auckland and Campbell Islands (Vernon 1991).

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )

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Historic Range:


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Range

Endemic to New Zealand, breeding takes place on the southeast coast of South Island and on Foveaus Strait, Stewart, Auckland and Campbell Islands (6).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Megadyptes antipodes is a tall and slender penguin. It stands just over 60 cm and weighs five to eight kilograms. Its distinct features are its yellow eyes and yellow feathers that encircle the head. The rest of the animal is black and white. Males and females look similar but males often have a larger head and feet. Megadyptes antipodes only varies in appearance during the molting season, when feathers are being replaced. Juveniles have gray and not yellow eyes; the yellow feathers are usually absent or muted also. The rest of the body is a downy gray or dark brown. Megadyptes antipodes is the fourth largest penguin in the world

(Vernon 1991; Houston 1998; Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust 1998).

Range mass: 5000 to 8000 g.

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Type Information

Type for Megadyptes antipodes
Catalog Number: USNM A15655
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): S. Holmes
Locality: Auckland Islands, New Zealand, Australia
  • Type: Peale. 1848. U.S. Exploring Expedition. 8 (mamm. and orn.): 260, pl. lxx, fig.1.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

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
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Megadyptes antipodes nests in the coastal forests of New Zealand. It prefers secluded spots that are usually backed by a tree or log. Individuals will not nest in sight of other birds.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial ; saltwater or marine

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

Aquatic Biomes: coastal

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Yellow-eyed penguins breed in forest or scrubland, choosing to build nests against rocks or tree trunks, which provide some protection from the elements (2).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Megadyptes antipodes is a carnivore, mostly feeding on fish and squid. It is especially fond of red cod, opal fish, sprat, silversides, ahuru and blue cod (Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust 1998).

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

An average life span is 23 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
23 years.

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Reproduction

When M. antipodes mates, the male mounts the female and rests his neck on the back of hers and vibrates his flippers along her sides.

Megadyptes antipodes begins its breeding season in August with the selection of mates and nest sites. Prior to August, beginning in approximately May, M. antipodes begins the courting season. Pairs of M. antipodes usually stay together for years, only parting when one dies or there is a failure to raise a family. The male fertilizes two eggs that have already developed inside the female. Twelve days later the female lays the eggs. Megadyptes antipodes has a 39-51 day incubation period. For six weeks after hatching, the chicks are guarded. One parent will stay at the nest while the other dives for food in the ocean.

After the chicks are six weeks old, both parents will hunt for food in the ocean, leaving the chicks on their own. Chicks usually leave the nest in mid-February. Megadyptes antipodes reaches sexual maturity at two or three for females and three to five for males.

Breeding interval: Yellow-eyed penguins breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Megadyptes antipodes begins its breeding season in August with the selection of mates and nest sites.

Range time to hatching: 39 to 51 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 to 3 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 to 5 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Megadyptes antipodes

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 17
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
B2b(iii,v)c(iv)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Houston, D. & McKinlay, B.

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.

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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Threatened
Date Listed: 09/02/2010
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10) 
Where Listed: Entire


Population detail:

Population location: Entire
Listing status: T

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Megadyptes antipodes , see its USFWS Species Profile

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Megadyptes antipodes is an endangered species. A 1992 estimate concluded that 5,930-6,970 individuals lived in New Zealand. However, not all of these birds were breeders. Drops in numbers of M. antipodes are attributed to destruction of habitat, fires, grazing, predation, and food shortages. Humans and livestock also disturb this penguin. Predators on M. antipodes include wild cats, ferrets, stoats and dogs.

Many efforts are being made to save M. antipodes. The Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust has set out to protect the animals' habitat, create reserves, fence in breeding areas and control predators. The New Zealand Department of Conservation in conjunction with the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society has also set out to help the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust. This species is protected under law by the Wildlife Act of 1953. However the habitat of this bird is not

(Vernon 1991; Stonehouse 1997; Houston 1998; Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust 1998).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: endangered

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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Population

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
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Threats

Major Threats
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).

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The yellow-eyed penguin may be the rarest penguin in the world. The coastal forests of their habitat, particularly of mainland New Zealand, have been destroyed to make way for development and agriculture. Introduced sheep and cattle pose a threat as they can trample on penguin nests and overgraze the area, destroying further habitat (2). In 1986 and 1990 there were two major population crashes, the causes of which remain a mystery (6). The other major threat to the yellow-eyed penguin comes from introduced mammalian predators such as ferrets, cats, rats and dogs; juvenile penguins or adults during their moult phase are extremely vulnerable to predation and numbers have been decimated over the years (2).
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Management

Conservation Actions

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.

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Conservation

The New Zealand Department of Conservation Hoiho Recovery Plan is currently underway, which aims to promote the recovery of this species and to involve local people in their conservation (5). A number of schemes are already in place including the protection of certain key habitats and the removal of predators. The Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust has introduced a number of important conservation initiatives and research, including the banning of dogs from certain sensitive beaches (2). The Trust is careful to work extremely closely with local residents over these sensitive issues (2). Every effort is being made to secure the future of one of New Zealand's avian treasures.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Megadyptes antipodes attracts many tourists to New Zealand. It is also of importance to scientists since they believe it might be the most ancient species of penguin

(Vernon 1998).

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Wikipedia

Yellow-eyed Penguin

The yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) or hoiho is a penguin native to New Zealand. Previously thought closely related to the little penguin (Eudyptula minor), molecular research has shown it more closely related to penguins of the genus Eudyptes. Like most other penguins, it is mainly piscivorous.

The species breeds around the South Island of New Zealand, as well as Stewart, Auckland, and Campbell Islands. Colonies on the Otago Peninsula are a popular tourist venue, where visitors may closely observe penguins from hides, trenches, or tunnels.

Taxonomy[edit]

The yellow-eyed penguin is the sole extant species in the genus Megadyptes. (A smaller, recently extinct species M. waitaha was discovered in 2008.[2]) Previously thought closely related to the little penguin (Eudyptula minor), new molecular research has shown it more closely related to penguins of the genus Eudyptes. Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA evidence suggests it split from the ancestors of Eudyptes around 15 million years ago.[3]

The yellow-eyed penguin was described by Jacques Bernard Hombron and Honoré Jacquinot in 1841. The Maori name is hoiho.

Description[edit]

Molting yellow-eyed penguin at Oamaru, New Zealand
Yellow-eyed penguins at Curio Bay

This is a mid-sized penguin, measuring 62–79 cm (24–31 in) long (fourth largest penguin). Weights vary through the year being greatest, 5.5 to 8 kg (12–18 lbs), just before moulting and least, 3 to 6 kg (6.6–13.2 lbs), after moulting. The males are larger than the females.[4][5] It has a pale yellow head and paler yellow iris with black feather shafts. The chin and throat are brownish-black. There is a band of bright yellow running from its eyes around the back of the head. The juvenile has a greyer head with no band and their eyes have a grey iris.

The yellow-eyed penguin may be long lived, with some individuals reaching 20 years of age. Males are generally longer lived than females, leading to a sex ratio of 2:1 around the age of 10–12 years.[6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This penguin usually nests in forest or scrub, among native flax (Phormium tenax) and lupin (Lupinus arboreus), on slopes or gullies, or the shore itself, facing the sea. These areas are generally sited in small bays or on headland areas of larger bays.[7] It is found in New Zealand, on the south-east coast of the South Island most notably on Otago Peninsula, Foveaux Strait, Stewart Island, and sub-Antarctic islands of Auckland and Campbell Islands. It expanded its range from the sub-Antarctic islands to the main islands of New Zealand after the extinction of the Waitaha penguin several hundred years ago.

Conservation[edit]

This species of penguin is endangered, with an estimated population of 4000. It is considered one of the world's rarest penguin species. The main threats include habitat degradation and introduced predators. It may be the most ancient of all living penguins.[8]

A reserve protecting more than 10% of the mainland population was established at Long Point in the Catlins in November 2007 by the Department of Conservation and the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust.[9][10]

In August 2010 the yellow-eyed penguin was granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.[11]

Health[edit]

In spring 2004, a previously undescribed disease killed off 60% of yellow-eyed penguin chicks on the Otago peninsula and in North Otago. The disease has been linked to an infection of Corynebacterium, a genus of bacteria that also causes diphtheria in humans. It has recently been described as diphtheritic stomatitis. However, it seems as if this is just a secondary infection. The primary pathogen remains unknown. A similar problem has affected the Stewart Island population.[12]

Foraging behaviour[edit]

The yellow-eyed penguin forages predominantly over the continental shelf between 2 km (1 mi) and 25 km (16 mi) offshore, diving to depths of 40 m (131 ft) to 120 m (394 ft) [13][14] Breeding penguins usually undertake two kinds of foraging trips: day trips where the birds leave at dawn and return in the evening ranging up to 25 km from their colonies, and shorter evening trips during which the birds are seldom away from their nest longer than four hours or range farther than 7 km.[14] Yellow-eyed penguins are known to be an almost exclusive benthic forager that searches for prey along the seafloor. Accordingly, up to 90% of their dives are benthic dives.[14] This also means that their average dive depths are determined by the water depths within their home ranges.[15]

Diet[edit]

Around 90% of the yellow-eyed penguin's diet is made up of fish, chiefly demersal species that live near the seafloor (e.g. blue cod (Parapercis colias), red cod (Pseudophycis bachus), opalfish (Hemerocoetes monopterygius) [16]). Other species taken are New Zealand blueback sprat (Sprattus antipodum) and cephalopods such as arrow squid (Nototodarus sloanii).

Breeding[edit]

On the shore of Enderby Island, Auckland Islands

Whether yellow-eyed penguins are colonial nesters has been an ongoing issue with zoologists in New Zealand. Most Antarctic penguin species nest in large high density aggregations of birds. For an example see the photo of nesting emperor penguin. In contrast yellow-eyed penguins do not nest within visual sight of each other. While they can be seen coming ashore in groups of four to six or more individuals then disperse along track to individual nests sites out of sight of each other. The consensus view of New Zealand penguin workers is that it is preferable to use habitat rather than colony to refer to areas where yellow-eyed penguins nest. Nest sites are selected in August and normally two eggs are laid in September. The incubation duties (lasting 39–51 days) are shared by both parents who may spend several days on the nest at a time. For the first six weeks after hatching, the chicks are guarded during the day by one parent while the other is at sea feeding. The foraging adult returns at least daily to feed the chicks and relieve the partner.

After the chicks are six weeks of age, both parents go to sea to supply food to their rapidly growing offspring. Chicks usually fledge in mid-February and are totally independent from then on. Chick fledge weights are generally between 5 and 6 kg.

First breeding occurs at three to four years of age and long term partnerships are formed.

Penguins and humans[edit]

Tourism[edit]

Several mainland habitats have hides and are relatively easily accessible for those wishing to watch the birds come ashore. These include beaches at Oamaru, Moeraki light-house, a number of beaches near Dunedin, and The Catlins. In addition, commercial tourist operations on Otago Peninsula also provide hides to view yellow-eyed penguins.

In culture[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Megadyptes antipodes". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Boessenkool, Sanne; et al. (2008). "Relict or colonizer? Extinction and range expansion of penguins in southern New Zealand". Proc. R. Soc. B. 276 (1658): 815–821. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1246. PMC 2664357. PMID 19019791. 
  3. ^ Baker AJ, Pereira SL, Haddrath OP, Edge KA (2006). "Multiple gene evidence for expansion of extant penguins out of Antarctica due to global cooling". Proc Biol Sci. 273 (1582): 11–17. doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3260. PMC 1560011. PMID 16519228. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  4. ^ Marion, Remi, Penguins: A Worldwide Guide. Sterling Publishing Co. (1999), ISBN 0-8069-4232-0
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Richdale, L (1957). A population study of penguins. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  7. ^ Williams, Tony D. (1995). The Penguins. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854667-X. 
  8. ^ Other Penguin Species. Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust. Accessed 28 November 2007.
  9. ^ Gwyneth Hyndman, Land set aside for yellow-eyed penguin protection in Catlins. The Southland Times, Wednesday, 28 November 2007.
  10. ^ 12km coastal reserve declared for yellow-eyed penguins, Radio New Zealand News, 27 November 2007.
  11. ^ Five Penguins Win U.S. Endangered Species Act Protection Turtle Island Restoration Network
  12. ^ Kerrie Waterworth, Mystery illness strikes penguins, Sunday Star Times, 25 November 2007.
  13. ^ Moore, P. J. 1999: Foraging range of the yellow-eyed penguin, Megadyptes antipodes. Marine Ornithology 27: 49-59
  14. ^ a b c Mattern, T.; Ellenberg, U.; Houston, D.M.; Davis, L.S. 2007: Consistent foraging routes and benthic foraging behaviour in yellow-eyed penguins. Marine Ecology Progress Series 343: 295-306
  15. ^ Mattern, T.; Ellenberg, U.; Houston, D.M.; Lamare, M.; van Heezik, Y.; Seddon, P.J., Davis, L.S. 2013: The Pros and Cons of being a benthic forager: How anthropogenic alterations of the seafloor affect Yellow-eyed penguis. Keynote presentation. 8th International Penguin Conference, Bristol, UK. 2–6 September 2013. http://combine.cs.bris.ac.uk/opencms/ipc/materials/IPC8_Abstract_Book_complete.pdf
  16. ^ Moore, P.J.; Wakelin, M.D. 1997: Diet of the yellow-eyed penguin Megadyptes antipodes, South Island, New Zealand, 1991-1993. Marine Ornithology 25:17-29
  17. ^ "Rubbish and Recycling - Services". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
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