Impact of flipper-banding on breeding success of African penguins Spheniscus demersus at Robben Island: comparisons among silicone rubber bands, stainless-steel bands and no bands

  • PJ Barham HH Wills Physics Laboratory, University of Bristol, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TL, UK; Animal Demography Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
  • LG Underhill Animal Demography Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
  • RJM Crawford Animal Demography Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa; Marine and Coastal Management, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Private Bag X2, Rogge Bay 8012, South Africa
  • TM Leshoro Robben Island Museum, Robben Island 7400, South Africa
  • DA Bolton Birdworld, Holt Pound, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 4LD, UK

Abstract

From 2001 to 2006, two new designs of flipper bands made from silicone rubbers were tested on African penguins Spheniscus demersus at 365 nests on Robben Island, South Africa. We compared, over six years, the breeding success, from hatching to fledging, of three different groups of penguins: those with rubber bands (117 nests), with conventional stainless-steel bands (103 nests) and without bands (145 nests). There were no significant differences in breeding success between the three groups, suggesting that neither the currently used steel bands, nor either of the new rubber-band designs, were harmful during the seasons investigated. The rubber bands caused less wear of feathers and less drag on a model penguin than the steel bands. In captivity, the behaviours of African penguins fitted with rubber bands were not noticeably different to those of unbanded birds.

Keywords: African penguin; behaviour; effects of flipper-banding; drag; fledging success; silicone rubber; Spheniscus demersus; stainless steel

African Journal of Marine Science 2008, 30(3): 595–602
Published
2008-12-17
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X