Archived 2020 topic: Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Magellanic Penguin, developed in collaboration with the IUCN SSC Penguin Specialist Group

Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) breeds on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America in Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). While most individuals from the Atlantic Ocean migrate north in winter, individuals from the Pacific Ocean are less migratory. The global population is estimated at between 1.1 and 1.6 million breeding pairs, with about 900,000 pairs along the Argentinian coast, at least 100,000 pairs in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and between 144,000 and 500,000 pairs in Chile (Boersma et al. 2013, 2015). A largely oceanic species, Magellanic Penguin is threatened by pollution, interaction with fisheries through bycatch mortality, and climate change impacts (Gandini et al. 1994, 1999, Tamini et al. 2002, Garcia Borboroglu et al. 2006, González-Zevallos and Yorio 2006, Boersma 2008, Schlatter et al. 2009, Yorio et al. 2010, Cardoso et al. 2011, González-Zevallos et al. 2011, Marinao and Yorio 2011, Seco Pon et al. 2013, Boersma and Rebstock 2014, Marinao et al. 2014, Suazo et al. 2014, Boersma et al. 2015, Suazo et al. 2016, L. Tamini pers. comm. 2016, Crawford et al. 2017, Marques et al. 2018, Paz et al. 2018, Fogliarini et al. 2019, Ropert-Coudert et al. 2019).

Magellanic Penguin is currently listed as Near Threatened, approaching the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion A2bcde+3bcde+4bcde (BirdLife International 2020). However, new information regarding the population trend suggest that the species may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, it will be re-assessed against all criteria:

Criterion A – Population trends vary among colonies and are contrasting among regions. Trends are assessed over a period of three generation lengths, which is estimated at 39.6 years for this species (Bird et al. 2020)*.

In Argentina, trends in the censused colonies are inconsistent. Colonies in southern Atlantic Patagonia appear to be increasing slowly: numbers on Staten Island increased from 500 pairs in 1998 to 2,300 pairs in 2015, while the population on Martillo Island increased by 15% over 20 years (Raya Rey et al. 2014, A. Raya Rey unpubl. data) and the colonies in Santa Cruz Province increased by 12% over the last 25 years (E. Frere unpubl. data). In its stronghold in northern Patagonia, Magellanic Penguin shows mixed trends. The largest colonies have declined by up to 76% since the late 1980s (Boersma et al. 2013, Pozzi et al. 2015, Rebstock et al. 2016, Garcia Borboroglu et al. 2019, P. Boersma unpubl. data). Nevertheless, the breeding population has been expanding northward since the 1960s, with new colonies establishing and growing rapidly (Schiavini et al. 2005, Boersma et al. 2013, Pozzi et al. 2015, Garcia Borboroglu et al. 2019). On average, colonies in Argentina are thought to have declined at a rate of 6% over three generations.

Trends of the population in Chile are unknown. Some colonies in the northern part of the range and on the Juan Fernández Islands seem to have been abandoned (Boersma et al. 2013, 2015), while other colonies underwent rapid declines of >80% over the past decade (Godoy et al. 2019). Colonies in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) appear to be fluctuating (Crofts and Stanworth 2019), with no evidence to suggest long-term declines of the population (A. Stanworth pers. comm.).

The global population is overall assessed as stable, with at most slow declines of <10% over three generations. Magellanic Penguin therefore warrants listing as Least Concern under Criterion A.

Criterion B – The species’s range is too large to warrant listing as threatened under Criterion B (Extent of Occurrence = 2,340,000 km2) and thus Magellanic Penguin qualifies as Least Concern under this criterion.

Criterion C – The global population is thought to number between 1.1 and 1.6 million pairs, which equates to 2.2 – 3.2 million mature individuals. This is too large to qualify as threatened under Criterion C, and Magellanic Penguin is therefore listed as Least Concern under this criterion.

Criterion D – The population size and range are too large to warrant a listing as threatened under Criterion D and thus Magellanic Penguin qualifies as Least Concern under this criterion.

Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge no quantitative analysis of extinction risk has been conducted for this species. Therefore, it cannot be assessed against this criterion.

Therefore, it is suggested that Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) be listed as Least Concern. We welcome any comments on the proposed listing.

Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of its Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are relevant to the discussion outlined in the topic. By submitting a comment, you confirm that you agree to the Comment Policy.

*Bird generation lengths are estimated using the methodology of Bird et al. (2020), as applied to parameter values updated for use in each IUCN Red List for birds reassessment cycle. Values used for the current assessment are available on request. We encourage people to contact us with additional or improved values for the following parameters; adult survival (true survival accounting for dispersal derived from an apparently stable population); mean age at first breeding; and maximum longevity (i.e. the biological maximum, hence values from captive individuals are acceptable).

An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.


Bird, J. P.; Martin, R.; Akçakaya, H. R.; Gilroy, J.; Burfield, I. J.; Garnett, S.; Symes, A.; Taylor, J.; Šekercioğlu, Ç.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2020. Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology online first view.

BirdLife International. 2020. Species factsheet: Spheniscus magellanicus. (Accessed 19 May 2020).

Boersma, P. D. 2008. Penguins as marine sentinels. BioScience 58(7): 597-607.

Boersma, P. D.; Frere, E.; Kane, O.; Pozzi, L. M.; Pütz, K.; Raya Rey, A.; Rebstock, G. A.; Simeone, A.; Smith, J.; Van Buren, A.; Yorio, P.; Garcia Borboroglu, P. 2013. Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus). In (Garcia Borboroglu, P.; Boersma, P. D., eds.) Penguins. Natural History and Conservation. University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Boersma, P. D.; Garcia Borboroglu, P. Frere, E.; Kane, O.; Pozzi, L. M.; Pütz, K.; Raya Rey, A.; Rebstock, G. A.; Simeone, A.; Smith, J.; Van Buren, A., y  Yorio, P.; 2015. Pinguino de Magallanes (Spheniscus magellanicus). En (Garcia Borboroglu, P.; Boersma, P. D., eds.) Pinguinos. Historia Natural y Conservacion. Vazquez Mazzini Editores, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Boersma, P. D.; Rebstock, G. A. 2014. Climate change increases reproductive failure in Magellanic penguins. PLoS ONE : 9: e85602.

Boersma, P. D.; Rebstock, G. A.; García-Borboroglu, P. 2015. Marine protection is needed for Magellanic penguins in Argentina based on long-term data. Biological Conservation 182: 197-204.

Cardoso, L.G., Bugoni, L., Mancini, P.L., Haimovici, M. 2011. Gillnet fisheries as a major mortality factor of Magellanic penguins in wintering areas. Marine Pollution Bulletin 62: 840-844.

Crawford, R.; Ellenberg, U.; Frere, E.; Hagen, C.; Baird, K.; Brewin, P.; Crofts, S.; Glass, J.; Mattern, T,; Pompert, J,; Ross, K,; Kemper, J,; Ludynia, K,; Sherley, R. B.; Steinfurth, A.; Suazo, C. G.; Yorio, P.; Tamini, L.; Mangel, J. C.; Bugoni, L.; Jiménez Uzcátegui, G.; Simeone, A.; Luna-Jorquera, G.; Gandini, P.; Woehler, E. J.; Pütz, K.; Dann, P.; Chiaradia, A.; Small C. 2017. Tangled and drowned: a global review of penguin bycatch in fisheries. Endangered Species Research 34:373-396

Crofts, S.; Stanworth, A. 2019. Falkland Islands Seabird Monitoring Programme ‐ Annual Report 2018/2019 (SMP26). Falklands Conservation, Stanley.

Fogliarini, C. d. O.; Bugoni, L.; Haimovici, M.; Secchi, E. R.; Cardoso, L. G. 2019. High mortality of adult female Magellanic penguins by gillnet fisheries in southern Brazil. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

Gandini, P. A.; Frere, E.; Pettovello, A. D.; Cedrola, P. V. 1999. Interaction between Magellanic Penguins and shrimp fisheries in Patagonia, Argentina. Condor 101(4): 783-798.

Gandini, P.; Boersma, P. D.; Frere, E.; Gandini, M.; Holik, T.; Lichstein, V. 1994. Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) affected by chronic petroleum pollution along coast of Chubut, Argentina. The Auk 111: 20-27.

García Borboroglu, P.; Boersma, P. D.; Ruoppolo, V.; Reyes, L.; Rebstock, G.; Rodrigues Heredia, A.; Corrado, A.; Pinho da Silva, A. R. 2006. Chronic Oil Pollution Harms Magellanic Penguins in The Southwest Atlantic. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52(2): 193–198.

Garcia Borboroglu, P.; Pozzi, L.; Yorio, P. 2019. Breeding range expansion and population distribution shifts of Magellanic Penguins in northern Patagonia, Argentina. X International Penguin Congress. Dunedin, New Zealand.

Godoy, C.; Muñoz, L.; García Borboroglu, P.. 2019. Declines of population size and breeding performance of Magellanic penguins in Magallanes Region, Southern Chile. X International Penguin Congress. Dunedin, New Zealand.

González-Zevallos, D.; Yorio, P. 2006. Seabird use of discards and incidental captures at the Argentine hake trawl fishery in the Golfo San Jorge, Argentina. Marine Ecology Progress Series 316: 175–183.

González-Zevallos, D., Yorio, P. and Svagelj, W.S. 2011. Seabird attendance and incidental mortality at shrimp fisheries in Golfo San Jorge, Argentina. Marine Ecology Progress Series 432: 125–135.

Marinao, C.; Góngora, M. E.; González Zevallos, D.; Yorio, P. 2014. Factors affecting Magellanic Penguin mortality at coastal trawlers in Patagonia, Argentina. Ocean and Coastal Management 93: 100–105.

Marinao, C.; Yorio, P. 2011. Use of fishery discards and incidental mortality of seabirds attending coastal shrimp trawlers in Isla Escondida, Patagonia, Argentina. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 123: 709–719.

Marques, F.P.; Cardoso, L. G.; Haimovici, M.; Bugoni L. 2018. Trophic ecology of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) during the non-breeding period. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 210: 109-122.

Paz, J. A.; Seco Pon, J. P.; Favero, M.; Blanco, G.; Copello S. 2018. Seabird interactions and by-catch in the anchovy pelagic trawl fishery operating in northern Argentina. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

Pozzi, L. M.; García Borboroglu, P.; Boersma, P. D.; Pascual, M. A. 2015. Population regulation in Magellanic penguins: what determines changes in colony size? ? PLoS ONE 10: e0119002.

Raya Rey, A.; Rosciano, N.; Liljestrhöm, M.; Saenz Samaniego, R.; Schiavini, A. 2014. Species-specific population trends detected for penguins, gulls and cormorants over 20 years in sub-Antarctic Fuegian Archipelago. Polar Biology 37(9): 1343-1360.

Rebstock, G. A.; Boersma, P. D.; García-Borboroglu, P. 2016. Changes in habitat use and nesting density in a declining seabird colony. Population Ecology 58: 105-119.

Ropert-Coudert, Y.; Chiaradia, A.; Ainley, D.; Barbosa, A.; Boersma, P. D.; Brasso, R.; Dewar, M.; Ellenberg, U.; Garcia Borboroglu, P.; Emmerson, L.; Hickcox, R.; Jenouvrier, S.; Kato, A.; McIntosh, R. R.; Lewis, P.; Ramírez, F.; Ruoppolo, V.; Ryan, P. G.; Seddon, P. J.; Sherley, R. B.; Vanstreels, R. E. T.; Waller, L.; Woehler, E.; Trathan, P. N. 2019. Happy feet in a hostile world? The future of penguins depends on proactive management of current and expected threats. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:248.

Schiavini, A.; Yorio, P.; Gandini, P.; Rey, A. R.; Boersma, P. D. 2005. Los pingüinos de las costas Argentinas: estado poblacional y conservación. Hornero 20(1): 5-23.

Schlatter, R. P., Paredes, E., Ulloa, J., Harris, J., Romero, A., Vasquez, J., Lizama, A., Hernández, C., Simeone, A. 2009. Mortalidad de pingüino de Magallanes (Spheniscus magellanicus) en Queule, Región de la Araucanía, Chile. Boletín Chileno de Ornitología 15: 78-86.

Seco Pon, J. P.; Copello, S.; Moretinni, A.; Lértora, H. P.; Bruno, I.; Bastida, J.; Mauco, L.; Favero, M. 2013. Seabird and marine-mammal attendance and by-catch in semi-industrial trawl fisheries in near-shore waters of northern Argentina. Marine and Freshwater research 64: 237-248.

Suazo, C. G.; Cabezas, L. A.; Moreno, C. A.; Arata, J. A.; Luna-Jorquera, G.; Simeone, A.; Adasme, L.; Azócar, J.; García, M.; Yates, O.; Robertson, G. 2014. Seabird bycatch in Chile: A synthesis of its impacts, and a review of strategies to contribute to the reduction of a global phenomenon. Pacific Seabirds 41: 1–12.

Suazo, C. G.; Cabezas, L. A.; Yates, O. 2016. Collaboration on technical innovation towards the reduction of seabird bycatch in purse seine fisheries. SBWG7 Doc 20 Rev 1, 7th Meeting of the Seabird Bycatch Working Group, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels. La Serena, Chile.

Tamini, L. L., Perez, J. E., Chiaramonte, G. E., and Cappozzo, H. L. 2002. Magellanic penguins Spheniscus magellanicus and fish as bycatch in the cornalito Sorgentinia incisa fishery at Puerto Quequén, Argentina. Atlantic Seabirds 4: 109-114.

Yorio, P., Quintana, F., Dell’Arciprete, P. and González Zevallos, D. 2010. Spatial overlap between foraging seabirds and trawl fisheries: implications for the effectiveness of a marine protected area at Golfo San Jorge, Argentina. Bird Conservation International 20: 320-334.

This entry was posted in Americas, Archive, Penguin, South America and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Archived 2020 topic: Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus): revise global status?

  1. Fernando Angulo says:

    In Peru there are a few reports, and its considered Vagrant. There is only 3 reported records, the last one from september 2011 (see: Aguilar H., E. (2011). Primer avistamiento de Pingüino de Magallanes (Spheniscus magellanicus) en las Islas Ballestas, Sistema Nacional de Islas, Islotes y Puntas Guaneras, Perú. Boletín Informativo de la Unión de Ornitólogos del Perú (UNOP), 6 (2): 19-20.)

  2. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. We greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting. The window for consultation is now closed. We will analyse and interpret the new information and post a preliminary decision on this species’s Red List status on this page in early July.

    Thank you once again,
    BirdLife Red List Team

  3. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2020 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2020 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2020/January 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  4. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    The final categorisation for this species has not changed. Magellanic Penguin is recommended to be listed as Least Concern.

    Many thanks for everyone who contributed to the 2020 GTB Forum process. The final 2020 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2020/January 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.