While our medium to long-term goal is to improve our knowledge about and conservation actions for all six New Zealand penguin species, our initial focus is on two of the three mainland species, Little penguins and Tawaki.
Little penguins live and breed all around the New Zealand mainland and the Chatham Islands. While there are many community groups looking after their local Little penguin populations, there is little coordination and information exchange. As result it is difficult to accurately assess the status of Little penguins in New Zealand. Moreover, most scientific information about Little penguins originates from studies conducted in Australia.
Seven main research milestones have been identified essential to improve our ability to develop evidence-based conservation of Little penguins in New Zealand.
|Milestone number||Category||Description||Target Outcome||ETA|
|LP1||Demography||Liaise with monitoring data holders to progress analysis of long-term data sets.||Publication of comprehensive population analyses||2020|
|LP2||Demography||Develop universal monitoring and survey protocols as well as a centralized Little penguin monitoring database accessible to all regional groups.||Open accessible Little penguin monitoring database (web-based)||2020|
|LP3||Demography||Work towards adoption of national monitoring plan and adjust monitoring protocols and database requirements.||Standard Operational Practice documentation/Monitoring manual||2020|
|LP4||Demography||Design analysis protocols for recorded data.||Analysis scripts/cloud-based service/written manual||2021|
|LP5||Marine Ecology||Facilitate, support and conduct projects investigating foraging behaviour nation-wide to establish a base understanding of Little penguins’ utilization of the marine habitat.||Research projects||long term|
|LP6||Marine Ecology||Liaise with Australian researchers to ensure continuous flow of information of latest research conducted across the Tasman and facilitate collaborative efforts.||Annual summary of novel research outcomes and overview of ongoing research projects.||long-term|
|LP7||Human Impacts||Identify and map regions where human impacts likely play a significant role (e.g. road kill, urban centres) and liaise with relevant community & advocacy groups to mitigate negative effects.||Publication; compilation of best practices manual.||2020|
Until recently, the enigmatic Fiordland penguin or tawaki, has been one of the least studied penguin species in the world despite being one of three penguin species on the New Zealand mainland. In 2014, the Tawaki Project started a long-term research program on the species investigating the species’ marine ecology across its breeding range.
We have teamed up with the Tawaki Project to continue their fantastic work into the future. The research milestones listed below outline how we will achieve this.
|Milestone Number||Category||Description||Target Outcome||ETA|
|FP1||Demography||Design & conduct survey of Fiordland to establish species’ occupancy within fjords.||Technical report & scientific publication||2022|
|FP2||Demography||Work towards establishing marked populations at representative sites, e.g. Jackson Head, Milford Sound, Whenua Hou and investigate feasibility of automated monitoring solutions.||Automated transponder ID gates in place at representative sites within the species' breeding range including maintenance plans.||2022|
|FP3||Demography||Establish national Fiordland penguin database to document population dynamics across all monitored sites.||Open accessible Fiordland penguin monitoring database (web-based)||2020|
|FP4||Demography||Work towards the continuation DOC’s monitoring program at key sites throughout the species’ mainland range.||Independently funded double count monitoring programme on Whenua Hou, Breaksea Island, Stafford & Jackson Head||2022|
|FP5||Marine Ecology||Coordinate with universities/research organisations to ensure maintenance of research momentum to establish baseline ecological information.||Research projects||long term|
|FP6||Marine Ecology||Examine species’ fjord ecology and suitability of fjords as buffer zones in the face of continuing ocean warming.||PhD student supervision; PhD thesis & scientific publications||2022|
|FP7||Marine Ecology||Investigate role of Marine Protected Areas for species’ foraging success as a case study for MPA effectiveness.||PhD student supervision; PhD thesis & scientific publications||2022|
|FP8||Marine Ecology||Work towards an annual foraging monitoring program to assess how fluctuations in the marine environment determine population dynamics.||Annual deployment of GPS dive loggers at sites representative of Fiordland penguin breeding distribution (i.e. West Coast, Fiordland, Foveaux Strait)||long term|
Other New Zealand penguin species
Although the initial focus of our activities will be with Little and Fiordland penguins, we will also seize opportunities to advance our knowledge of other New Zealand penguin species, especially the little studied crested penguin species of the sub-Antarctic region.
|Milestone Number||Category||Description||Target outcome||ETA|
|AP1||General Biology||Work towards implementation of long-term monitoring programs on all New Zealand penguin species, particularly population dynamics and marine ecology.||long term|
|AP2||Fisheries Impacts||Research of published records and grey literature to identify regions of increased risk of fisheries interactions.||Scientific publication; technical report||2020|
|AP3||Fisheries Impacts||Support and facilitate research projects towards mitigation of fisheries impacts.||long term|
|AP4||Fisheries Impacts||Liaise with DOC and MPI and participate in key stakeholder meetings (e.g. Conservation Services Program meetings, Aquatic Environment Work Group).||long term|
|AP5||Fisheries Impacts||Liaise with penguin advocacy groups to facilitate evidence-based conservation campaigns. Design analysis protocols for recorded data.||long term|