VU
Southern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes chrysocome



Taxonomy

Taxonomic note
So far, there have been six genetic studies undertaken on rockhopper penguins using different genetic technics and analysis (Banks et al. 2006; Jouventin et al. 2006; de Dinechin et al. 2009, Frugone et al. 2018, Mays et al. 2019, Lois et al. 2020). Jouventin et al. (2006) found only significant genetic differentiation between the northern and southern/ eastern populations. However, Banks et al. (2006) identified three species, and proposed a further split of E. chrysocome into southern (E. chrysocome) and eastern (E. filholi) ‘species’. This was not adopted by BirdLife International on the grounds of small sample sizes and limited morphological differences between the southern and eastern forms (BirdLife International 2008). However, further research by de Dinechin et al. (2009) also supported the split of chrysocome and filholi.
Recently, Frugone et al. (2018) analyzed two mtDNA (HVRI, COI) and two nuclear (ODC, AK1) markers from 13 locations of five putative Eudyptes species: rockhopper (E. filholi, E. chrysocome, and E. moseleyi), macaroni (E. chrysolophus) and royal penguins (E. schlegeli). They found a strong phylogeographic structure among rockhopper penguins from South America, subantarctic and subtropical islands supporting the recognition of three separate species of rockhopper penguins. Mays et al. (2019), on the other hand, using similar markers but different modelling also found genetic structure and low genetic flow, but in his analyses the best-supported population models for the southern rockhoppers combined E. c. chrysocome and E. c. filholi into a single lineage or 2 lineages with bidirectional gene flow, and thus proposed that they should be treated as different management units only. Lois et al. (2020) added new information on the southern rockhopper (E. c. chrysocome) from the southwest Atlantic Ocean. Studying the genetic structure of individuals from different colonies located in the southwest Atlantic they found evidence for two genetic clusters within the rockhopper, one northern (Falkland/ Malvinas Islands and Isla Pingüino) and one southern (Terhalten and Staten Island).

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
- - A2abcde+3bcde+4abcde

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2020 Vulnerable A2abcde+3bcde+4abcde
2018 Vulnerable A2abcde+3bcde+4abcde
2016 Vulnerable A2abcde+3bcde+4abcde
2012 Vulnerable A2abcde+3bcde+4abcde
2010 Vulnerable A2a,b,c,d,e; A3b,c,d,e; A4a,b,c,d,e
2008 Vulnerable A2a,b,c,d,e; A3b,c,d,e; A4a,b,c,d,e
2004 Not Recognised
2000 Not Recognised
1994 Not Recognised
1988 Not Recognised
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type Average mass -
Extent of occurrence (EOO)

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 13,100,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 47,300,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 3,640 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -
Population and trend
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 2500000 medium estimated 2020
Population trend Decreasing medium inferred -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) 34 - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) 34 - - -
Number of subpopulations 2-100 - - -
Largest subpopulations - - -
Generation length (yrs) 11.9 - - -

Population justification: Latest counts on islands off South America revealed a total of ca. 850,000 breeding pairs of subspecies E.c. chrysocome (Falkland Islands: 319,163 breeding pairs in 2010, Isla de los Estados: 135,000 pairs in 2010, Isla Pinguino: 1,061 pairs in 2014, Isla Ildefonso: 86,400 pairs in 2006, Diego Ramirez: 132,721 pairs in 2002, Isla Noir: 158,200 pairs in 2005, Isla Barnevelt: 10,800 pairs in 1992, Cape Horn: 600 pairs in 1992, Isla Terhalten: 3,000 pairs in 2008 and Isla Buenaventura: 500 pairs in 1992 [Schiavini et al. 2005, BirdLife International 2010, Raya Rey et al. 2014, Gandini et al. 2017, Baylis et al. 2013]). 

The subspecies E. c. filholi totals 422,000 breeding pairs; Prince Edward Islands: 38,000 pairs in 2008/09 (Crawford et al. 2009); Marion Island: 58,955 pairs in 2018/19 (Makhado et al. unpubl.); Crozet Islands: 152,800 pairs in 1982; Kerguelen Islands (French Southern Territories): 85,500 pairs in 1985; Heard Island (Heard and McDonald Islands [to Australia]): 10,000 pairs in 2003; Macquarie Island (Australia): 37,500 pairs in 2007; Campbell (New Zealand): 33,239 pairs in 2012 (Morrison et al. 2015); Auckland (New Zealand): 3,000 pairs in 1990 and Antipodes Islands (New Zealand): 2,700-3,600 pairs in 1990.

There is evidence that there are at least three subpopulations, two within E. c. chrysocome (Lois et al. 2020) and E. c. filholi separate from these (Mays et al. 2019). Mays et al. (2019) found the best-supported population models for the southern rockhoppers combined E. c. chrysocome and E. c. filholi into a single lineage or 2 lineages with bidirectional gene flow, and thus proposed that they should be treated as different management units. Lois et al. (2020) added new information on the southern rockhopper (E. c. chrysocome) from the southwest Atlantic Ocean. Studying the genetic structure of individuals from different colonies located in the southwest Atlantic they found evidence for two genetic clusters, one northern (Falkland/ Malvinas Islands and Isla Pingüino) and one southern (Terhalten and Staten Island).

Trend justification: Several populations have experienced major long-term population crashes. Approximately 1.5 million pairs are estimated to have been lost from Campbell Island (94 % of the original total) between 1942 and 1986 (Cunningham and Moors 1994), with a further 21.8 % decrease between 1986 and 2012 (Morrison et al. 2015). In the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), the population fell by around 1.2 million pairs between 1932 and 2000 (20 % of the original total) (Pütz et al. 2003). At Staten Island, the numbers of Southern Rockhopper Penguins decreased by 24% between the censuses of 1998 and 2010 (Raya Rey et al. 2014). Numbers at Marion Island decreased by about 65 %, from 173,077 pairs in 1994/95 to 58,955 pairs in 2018/19 (Dyer and Crawford 2015, Makhado et al. unpubl.). The long-term trends remain unknown for the Kerguelen and Crozet populations (CEBC-CNRS database, C.A. Bost pers. comm.). Several other populations at the Auckland Islands and Antipodes Islands appear to have suffered severe declines of more than 40 % between the 1970s and the 1990s (Cooper 1992, Hiscock and Chilvers 2014).
 
Population modelling, based on those breeding sites that have been accurately surveyed, indicates that between 1971 and 2007 (three generations) the number of Southern Rockhopper Penguins declined by 34 % (BirdLife International 2010). In early 2016, there was a mortality of unknown extent of Southern Rockhopper Penguins in the Southwest Atlantic before and during the moulting period, with dead penguins (mainly caused by starvation) found along the coasts of Tierra del Fuego (around 300), the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands (300-400 on Saunders Islands) and near Puerto Deseado (around 200) (A. Raya Rey and S. Crofts pers. comm.). However, while the extent of this recent mortality has not been established, it appears that it may have affected the population at a larger regional scale (Crofts and Stanworth 2016, 2017, 2019, Morgenthaler et al. 2018.). 

There has been no update to the estimated trend modelled across all published survey data up to 2007 (BirdLife International 2007), which calculated a decline of 34% over the previous three generations. This was largely driven by the declines in the Falklands (Malvinas), where data are most complete, and to a lesser extent, Marion Island (BirdLife International 2010). Subsequently some studies have indicated that declines may have paused across a number of these colonies (Baylis et al. 2013, Morrison et al. 2015), however a mass-mortality event in 2016, mirroring that in 1986 (Boersma 1987) appears to have resulted in an immediate 31% reduction in numbers of breeding pairs in the Falklands (Malvinas) colonies (Crofts and Stanworth 2017), with little or no recovery since (Crofts and Stanworth 2019). It appears that El Niño related mass mortality events may currently be too frequent for the populations to recover. As such the estimated trend over the past three generations remains a rapid decline at a rate in excess of 30%, which is suspected to continue at this rate over the next three generations.


Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Antarctica N Extant Yes
Argentina N Extant Yes Yes
Australia N Extant Yes
Chile N Extant Yes Yes
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) N Extant Yes Yes
French Southern Territories N Extant Yes Yes
Heard Island and McDonald Islands (to Australia) N Extant Yes Yes
New Zealand N Extant Yes Yes
South Africa N Extant Yes Yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
St Helena (to UK) Tristan Island
St Helena (to UK) Inaccessible Island
St Helena (to UK) Nightingale Island group
St Helena (to UK) Gough Island
French Southern Territories Île de la Possession
French Southern Territories Île de l'Est
French Southern Territories Île aux Cochons
French Southern Territories Îles Nuageuses and Île Clugny
South Africa Prince Edward Islands Special Nature Reserve
Argentina San Antonio Oeste
Argentina Ría Deseado e islas adyacentes
Argentina Península Mitre
Argentina Isla de los Estados, Islas de Año Nuevo e islotes adyacentes
Argentina Islas Malvinas
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Kidney Island Group
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Beauchêne Island
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Bird Island
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Bleaker Island Group
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Hummock Island Group
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Jason Islands Group
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Keppel Island
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) New Island Group
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Passage Islands Group
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Pebble Island Group
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Saunders Island
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Sea Lion Islands Group
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) West Point Island Group
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Hope Harbour, West Falkland
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Seal Bay, East Falkland
Heard Island and McDonald Islands (to Australia) Heard and McDonald Islands
Australia Macquarie Island
Chile Isla Recalada
Chile Isla Noir
New Zealand Campbell Islands
New Zealand Auckland Islands
New Zealand Antipodes Islands
New Zealand Fiordland - West Coast South Island (South) (offshore)
Chile Isla Solitario
New Zealand Campbell Islands
Chile Patranca Island
Chile Islas Ildefonso
Chile Islas Diego Ramírez y Rocas Norte
New Zealand Main Auckland Island
New Zealand Adams Island
New Zealand Disappointment Island
New Zealand Campbell Island
New Zealand Antipodes Islands
Argentina Costa Atlántica de Tierra del Fuego
Argentina Isla de los Estados
Argentina Yaganes
Argentina Bahía Franklin
Argentina Isla Pingüino y otras
Argentina Cabo San Juan
New Zealand Auckland Islands 1 (offshore)
New Zealand Auckland Islands 2 (near-shore)
New Zealand Campbell Islands (nearshore)
New Zealand Campbell (offshore)
New Zealand Antipodes (offshore)
Chile Parque Nacional Cabo de Hornos

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 60 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Unintentional effects (species is not the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Indirect ecosystem effects, 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 Temperature extremes Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Rapid Declines Medium Impact: 7
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational 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 - Capra hircus Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
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
Reduced reproductive success
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Named species Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Oryctolagus cuniculus Timing Scope Severity Impact
Past, Unlikely to Return Minority (<50%) Unknown Past Impact
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Pasteurella multocida Timing Scope Severity Impact
Past, Likely to Return Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Past Impact
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Rattus norvegicus Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Problematic native species/diseases - Named species Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Very Rapid Declines Medium Impact: 7
Stresses
Species disturbance, Competition, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Problematic species/disease of unknown origin - Unspecified species Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Causing/Could cause fluctuations Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Species mortality
Natural system modifications Other ecosystem modifications Timing Scope Severity Impact
Past, Likely to Return Whole (>90%) Rapid Declines Past Impact
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Pollution Industrial & military effluents - Oil spills Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality

Utilisation
Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - Non-trivial Recent
Fuels - - Non-trivial Recent
Other household goods - - Non-trivial Recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Eudyptes chrysocome. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/03/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/03/2021.