CR 58:67-79 (2013)  -  DOI:

Ecological effects of climate change on little penguins Eudyptula minor and the potential economic impact on tourism

Peter Dann1,*, Lynda Chambers2

1Research Department, Phillip Island Nature Parks, PO Box 97, Cowes, Phillip Island, Victoria 3991, Australia
2Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, GPO Box 1289, Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia

ABSTRACT: Using a 40 yr demographic database of little penguins Eudyptula minor, we investigated anticipated impacts of climatic changes on the penguin population at Phillip Island, south-eastern Australia, and the potential economic impact on the associated tourism industry over the next century. We project a small loss of penguin breeding habitat due to sea level rise, although breeding habitat is unlikely to be limiting over this period. However, some erosion in the vicinity of tourism infrastructure will undoubtedly occur which will have economic implications. We anticipate little direct impact of decreased rainfall and humidity. However, fire risk may increase, and extreme climate events may reduce adult and chick survival slightly. Warmer oceans are likely to improve recruitment into the breeding population but the effect on adult survival is unclear. Overall, many aspects of little penguin biology are likely to be affected by climatic change but no net negative effect on population size is projected from existing analyses. Ocean acidification has the potential to be a highly significant negative influence, but present assessments are speculative. Some of the predicted negative impacts can be addressed in the short-term, particularly those resulting from expected changes to the terrestrial environment. Others, particularly in the marine environment, appear to have limited options for mitigation locally. In the absence of evidence indicating population decline, economic impact may be confined to issues for tourism infrastructure due to increased sea-levels during storm events.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Resilience · Adaptation · Seabird · Southern Australia · Penguin

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Cite this article as: Dann P, Chambers L (2013) Ecological effects of climate change on little penguins Eudyptula minor and the potential economic impact on tourism. Clim Res 58:67-79.

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