Iconic yellow-eyed penguins could disappear from New Zealand's Otago Peninsula by 2060
Date: May 16, 2017
Source: University of Otago
Iconic Yellow-eyed penguins could disappear from New Zealand's Otago Peninsula by 2060, latest research warns. Researchers call for coordinated conservation action.
In a newly published study in the international journal PeerJ, scientists have modelled factors driving mainland Yellow-eyed penguin population decline and are calling for action to reduce regional threats.
According to the researchers' prediction models, breeding success of the penguins will continue to decline to extinction by 2060 largely due to rising ocean temperatures. But these predictions also point to where our conservation efforts could be most effective in building penguins' resilience against climate change.
The Yellow-eyed penguin, classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is a key attraction for New Zealand tourism. Yet, the chances of seeing the penguins in the wild are quietly slipping away, the new research suggests.
Lead study author Dr Thomas Mattern of the University of Otago says his team's predictions are conservative estimates and do not include additional adult die-off events such as the one seen in 2013 in which more than 60 penguins died.
"Any further losses of Yellow-eyed penguins will bring forward the date of their local extinction," Dr Mattern says.