The initial journey of an Endangered penguin: implications for seabird conservation

Publication Year:

Seabirds can disperse widely in search of prey, especially during non-breeding periods. Conservation measures predominately focus on protecting breeding colonies, but juvenile survival and recruitment can have critical impacts on population dynamics. We report the first deployment of satellite transmitters to track the dispersal of fledgling African penguins Spheniscus demersus, a step towards determining the at-sea behaviour of post-fledging birds and identifying the key non-breeding habitats for this species. Five hand-reared fledglings dispersed from their release sites in the Western Cape, South Africa, in a north-westerly direction. Birds moved >100 km within 6 d and reached a mean distance of >1000 km from their release sites. Two key foraging areas were identified in regions of high and reliable primary productivity, one around Swakopmund, Namibia, and one north of Lambert’s Bay, South Africa. Neither site has protected status, underlining the importance of adaptive strategies to preserve key foraging hotspots and the need for further information on post-fledging dispersal to improve seabird conservation. Keywords: Juvenile dispersal, Seabird conservation, Foraging hotspots, Important bird areas, Satellite tracking, Benguela current, Fledglings.

Publication Title:

Endangered Species Research

Item Type:
Journal Article

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