Applying science to pressing conservation needs for penguins
Waller, Lauren J.
Boersma, P. Dee
Borboroglu, J. P.G.
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More than half of the world's 18 penguin species are declining. We, the Steering Committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission Penguin Specialist Group, determined that the penguin species in most critical need of conservation action are African penguin (Spheniscus demersus), Galápagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), and Yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes). Due to small or rapidly declining populations, these species require immediate scientific collaboration and policy intervention. We also used a pairwise-ranking approach to prioritize research and conservation needs for all penguins. Among the 12 cross-taxa research areas we identified, we ranked quantifying population trends, estimating demographic rates, forecasting environmental patterns of change, and improving the knowledge of fisheries interactions as the highest priorities. The highest ranked conservation needs were to enhance marine spatial planning, improve stakeholder engagement, and develop disaster-management and species-specific action plans. We concurred that, to improve the translation of science into effective conservation for penguins, the scientific community and funding bodies must recognize the importance of and support long-term research; research on and conservation of penguins must expand its focus to include the nonbreeding season and juvenile stage; marine reserves must be designed at ecologically appropriate spatial and temporal scales; and communication between scientists and decision makers must be improved with the help of individual scientists and interdisciplinary working groups.