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Variation in reproductive performance of Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) attributable to double brooding

Abstract

Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor) populations on the south-eastern coastline of the South Island, New Zealand, thrive at locations where they are protected from predation by introduced mammals and disturbance by people. Our objective was to investigate the reproductive performance of a population of Little Penguins at Oamaru over a period of 19 years. Long-term monitoring of the population began in 1993 and involved a weekly check of all nests in the breeding colony to record the numbers of adult penguins, eggs and chicks present. All breeding adults and fledged chicks were flipper-banded. Breeding seasons with an early onset of egg-laying had more double brooding. Annual breeding success through 19 breeding seasons (1994–2012) averaged 1.89 chicks per female, the highest recorded for the species. The study showed that an early onset of egg-laying and the occurrence of double brooding resulted in high breeding success at the Oamaru population.

Zusammenfassung

Unterschiede im Reproduktionserfolg des Zwergpinguins ( Eudyptula minor ) aufgrund von Zweitbruten

Die Populationen des Zwergpinguins auf der Südinsel Neuseelands gedeihen gut an Stellen, wo sie geschützt sind vor Predation durch eingeschleppte Säuger und Störung durch Menschen. Unser Ziel war es, den Reproduktionserfolg einer Population des Zwergpinguins bei Oamaru über den Zeitraum von 19 Jahren zu untersuchen. Das Langzeitmonitoring der Population begann 1993 und umfasste eine wöchentliche Überprüfung aller Nester in der Brutkolonie, um die Anzahlen von adulten Pinguinen, Eiern und Küken aufzunehmen. Alle brütenden adulten Tiere sowie flügge Jungvögel wurden mit einer Flügelmarke versehen. In Jahren mit einem frühen Legebeginn fanden mehr Zweitbruten statt. Der jährliche Bruterfolg über 19 Jahre (1994–2012) lag bei durchschnittlich 1.89 Küken pro Weibchen, dem höchsten für diese Art beobachteten Wert. Diese Studie zeigte, dass ein früher Legebeginn und das Auftreten von Zweitbruten zu einem hohen Bruterfolg in der Population bei Oamaru führten.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the many volunteers and staff from the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, past and present, who have been involved with monitoring. Thanks to the OBPC and Waitaki Development Board for funding the project. We are grateful to the three anonymous reviewers for their comments on the draft. All fieldwork was carried out in accordance with handling and banding permits from the Department of Conservation, New Zealand.

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Correspondence to Philippa Agnew.

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Communicated by C. Barbraud.

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Agnew, P., Houston, D., Lalas, C. et al. Variation in reproductive performance of Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) attributable to double brooding. J Ornithol 155, 101–109 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-013-0992-x

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Keywords

  • Breeding success
  • Double brooding
  • Oamaru
  • Eudyptula minor
  • New Zealand