Saturday, September 21, 2013

Researchers count on boosting little penguin knowledge

Posted Fri 20 Sep 2013
Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor)
Land animals which prey on little penguins will also be a focus for researchers this year's annual penguin census on Kangaroo Island.

Flinders University researchers will join natural resources staff in the island-wide count, which starts tomorrow.

Last year, about 960 breeding adult penguins were counted, compared with more than 1,300 the year before.

There is no definite conclusion as to why numbers are dropping but Martine Kinloch from Natural Resources Kangaroo Island says a count alone would be unable to answer that.

"But the work that Flinders University is doing ... as well as the large research program that SARDI [the South Australian Research and Development Institute] Aquatic Sciences has got running at the moment, that's going to be able to assist a lot more in determining causes," she said.

She says for the first time, staff will also be doing multiple counts at the same colony.

"So that's going to allow us to investigate whether or not there are any shifts in the peak of the breeding season and whether or not doing the census at slightly different times makes any big difference to the estimate that you get," she said.

"So that will give us some idea of how confident we can be in the estimates we've gathered so far."


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