Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The effects of visitor disturbance on breeding performance of gentoo penguins Pygoscelis papua on Goudier Island, Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Published source details

Cobley N.D. & Shears J.R. (1999) Breeding performance of gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) at a colony exposed to high levels of human disturbance. Polar Biology, 21, 355-360

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Use signs and access restrictions to reduce disturbance at nest sites Bird Conservation

A replicated, controlled study on Goudier Island (2 ha), Antarctica (Cobley & Shears 1999), in the austral summer of 1996-7, found that gentoo penguins Pygoscelis papua did not have significantly higher reproductive success at colonies with no access by tourists, compared to six colonies that tourists could walk through. The percentage of birds laying and eggs hatching did not vary between colonies (82-98% of birds laying and 71-95% of eggs hatching for 556 nests in disturbed colonies vs. 89-100% laying and 88-90% hatching for 170 nests in control colonies), nor did the growth rates of chicks. Overall, 3,103 tourists visited the island making a total of 7,938 ‘man-hours’ of visits over four months. Tourists could walk under supervision through six disturbed colonies but could not approach closer than 25 m to four protected colonies (with two 70 m away and partially concealed by rocks).