New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2011) 35(3): 199- 208

Factors affecting breeding success of the Flea Bay white-flippered penguin (Eudyptula minor albosignata) colony

Research Article
Warwick J. Allen 1*
Francis W. Helps 2
Laura E. Molles 1
  1. Bioprotection & Ecology Division, Lincoln University, PO Box 94, Lincoln 7647, New Zealand
  2. PO Box 41, Akaroa 7542, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

The little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor) is in decline throughout much of its range in New Zealand and Australia, largely due to introduced predators, human disturbance and roadkill mortalities. The white-flippered penguin is a unique morphological variant of the blue penguin, which is traditionally given subspecific status (Eudyptula minor albosignata), and is found only on Banks Peninsula and Motunau Island in Canterbury, New Zealand. We monitored a varying number of nest boxes from 1996 to 2009. Overall breeding success was 64% over 13 years of monitoring, with a hatching success rate of 75% and a fledging success rate of 85%. We used a set of generalised linear mixed models and model selection to examine the relative influence of various explanatory variables on hatching, fledging and overall breeding success. Breeding success in nest boxes significantly increased with shorter average pair bond length, longer guard period and later relative lay date. Guard period length was the best predictor of breeding success, followed by relative lay date and average pair bond length. Hatching success also increased with later relative lay date but fledging success was not influenced by any of the explanatory variables measured.