LC
Little Penguin Eudyptula minor



Taxonomy

Taxonomic note
Based on the currently available evidence, the HBW & BirdLife Checklist treats Little Penguin as a single monotypic species. A series of peer-reviewed papers identified two genetically distinct clades, one restricted to New Zealand, and another comprising birds from Australia and New Zealand's southeast (Otago) (Banks et al. 2002; Grosser et al. 2015, 2016; Peuker et al. 2009 and Tavares and Baker 2008). A multivariate skeletal analysis further revealed osteological differentiation between the New Zealand and Australian clades (Grosser et al. 2017). In contrast, studies based on vocalisation (Miyazaki & Nakagawa 2015) and two conference abstracts on plumage colour (Macey et al. 2015) and mating (Clark et al. 2015) were inconclusive to distinguish the two lineages due to small sample size. In addition, an unpublished report (Boesman unpublished) found no support for strong vocal differences between the clades but it was also inconclusive based on a limited sample size of 6 recordings. While genetic evidence for two clades is well documented and accepted by the scientific community, there is an overall lack of data on acoustics, plumage, geographic relationship, behaviour and ecology on many colonies to deliver taxonomic decisions with objectivity, consistency and transparency as proposed by the Tobias criteria (Tobias et al. 2010). Therefore, a move to split the clades as two species appears premature, requiring further biological work to assess whether genetic differences between populations are supported by taxonomically meaningful phenotypic differences as suggested by Mattern & Wilson (2018).

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red List criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2020 Least Concern
2018 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status not a migrant Forest dependency does not normally occur in forest
Land-mass type Average mass -
Range

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence (breeding/resident) 6,870,000 km2
Extent of Occurrence (non-breeding) 7,130,000 km2
Severely fragmented? no -
Population
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Population size 469760 mature individuals good - 2016
Population trend stable - suspected -
Generation length 8.4 years - - -

Population justification:

The global population size has been quantified for most sites, with the current population estimate of 469,760 breeding adults. This population size is smaller than the previously estimate, where the total population was only considered as under 1,000,000 individuals, but was based on non-quantified data. With quantified data, 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: The population trend is overall stable, but 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). Sites without active conservation measures have experienced a severe decrease in population size, where many known breeding colonies no longer exist (Dann 1994; Stevenson & Woehler 2007). 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.


Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding visitor Non-breeding visitor Passage migrant
Australia extant native yes yes
Chile extant vagrant
New Zealand extant native yes yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Australia Port Davey Islands
Australia Babel Island Group
Australia Betsey Island
Australia Forsyth, Passage and Gull Islands
Australia Gabo and Tullaberga Islands
Australia Phillip Island
Australia Chalky, Big Green and Badger Island Groups
Australia St Helens (Tasmania)

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Sand Dunes major breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline major breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc major breeding
Marine Neritic Coral Reef major resident
Marine Neritic Estuaries major resident
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major resident
Marine Neritic Pelagic major resident
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major resident
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major resident
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major resident
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major resident
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major resident
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major resident
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major resident
Altitude 0 - 50 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Marine & freshwater aquaculture - Scale Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Whole (>90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 7
Stresses
Species mortality
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success
Climate change & severe weather Storms & flooding Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success
Climate change & severe weather Temperature extremes Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Energy production & mining Oil & gas drilling Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species disturbance, Ecosystem degradation
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species disturbance, Reduced reproductive success
Human intrusions & disturbance Work & other activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species disturbance, Reduced reproductive success
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Canis familiaris Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Cenchrus clandestinus Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Felis catus Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Gallirallus australis Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Vulpes vulpes Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species mortality
Natural system modifications Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation
Pollution Excess energy - Light pollution Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species disturbance
Pollution Industrial & military effluents - Oil spills Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Residential & commercial development Housing & urban areas Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Residential & commercial development Tourism & recreation areas Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Transportation & service corridors Roads & railroads Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species disturbance, Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion

Utilisation
Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Eudyptula minor. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/little-penguin-eudyptula-minor on 22/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 22/02/2024.