Breeding success in Southern Australian little penguins is negatively correlated with high wind speeds and sea surface temperatures

Bianca Johnson, Diane Colombelli-Négrel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


As bio-indicators, seabirds across the globe help us understand how our environment is changing, and how this is affecting our wildlife. Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) in Australia are a key species in understanding the changes to the Australian environment. However, studies generally focus on the effects of oceanic changes without always accounting for the potential interactions with the environmental conditions experienced on land during breeding. This study examined the relationships between both marine and terrestrial environmental variables and breeding success in South Australian Little Penguins, observing 10 colonies over a nonconsecutive 28-yr time period. Our results showed that South Australian Little Penguins had a lower breeding success (fewer fledglings produced per pair) when sea surface temperatures were higher in the 3 mo before breeding and when high winds occurred during the breeding season. We also observed local variation between the colonies: breeding success was only influenced by environmental variables for colonies located near open waters and not for colonies located in enclosed bays. These results confirm the idea that future oceanographic warming is expected to reduce the breeding success (and population size) of some Australian seabirds, including Little Penguins.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberduaa062
Number of pages15
JournalThe Condor: Ornithological Applications
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Breeding success
  • Eudyptula minor
  • Australian environment
  • environmental conditions
  • penguin colonies
  • high wind variables
  • Sea surface temperatures
  • Air temperature
  • Little Penguins
  • Rainfall
  • Reproductive success
  • South Australia


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