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Status and conservation of Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus in Patagonia, Argentina

  • Patricia Gandini (a1), Esteban Frere (a1) and P. Dee Boersma (a2)

Summary

There are 36 breeding colonies of Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus along the coast of mainland Argentina. During the breeding period we counted the number of active nests and estimated the breeding population was approximately 652,000 pairs. Development of coastal areas is diminishing the quality of Magellanic Penguin breeding habitat and reducing penguin reproductive success. Adult mortality rates are increasing because of human activities. Maritime petroleum traffic and petroleum operations are known to cause mortality. Fishing activities cause incidental mortality and may negatively affect penguin foraging and reproductive success. In some areas, offal is increasing gull populations with a corresponding increase in predation on penguin eggs and chicks, thereby lowering reproductive success. These sources of mortality are relatively recent and are human caused. We found three areas where human activities are of particular concern: Península Valdés, Golfo San Jorge and Estrecho de Magallanes. Human impacts on Magellanic Penguin populations could be reduced, benefiting the tourist industry where yearly tens of thousands of people come to the provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruz to visit penguin colonies.

Existen 36 colonias de pingüino de Magallanes Spheniscus magellanicus a lo largo de la costa Argentina. La población reproductiva se estimó en 652,000 parejas realizando un conteo de nidos activos durante la estación reproductiva. El desarrollo de las áreas costeras está reduciendo la calidad del hábitat de reproducción y el éxito reproductivo del pingüino de Magallanes. El tráfico de petróleo y las actividades relacionadas son conocidas causas de mortalidad. Las actividades pesqueras están causando mortalidad incidental y pueden estar afectando negativamente el éxito de alimentatión y reproductivo. En algunas áreas la basura está contribuyendo al aumento de la población de gaviotas, incrementándose la predación sobre huevos y pichones de pingüino reduciendo su éxito reproductivo. Estas fuentes de mortalidad son relativamente recientes y provocadas por el hombre. Hemos detectado tres áreas donde la mortalidad relacionada con actividades humanas es preocupante: Península Valdés, Golfo San Jorge y Estrecho de Magallanes. El impacto humano sobre la población de pingüino de Magallanes podría reducirse y beneficiar la industria turística de las provincias de Chubut y Santa Cruz, donde anualmente decenas de miles de personas visitan las colonias reproductivas del pingüino.

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Copyright

References

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Status and conservation of Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus in Patagonia, Argentina

  • Patricia Gandini (a1), Esteban Frere (a1) and P. Dee Boersma (a2)

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