Lorien Pichegru

Lorien Pichegru
Coastal and Marine Research Institute · Nelson Mandela University

PhD

About

78
Publications
24,558
Reads
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1,812
Citations
Introduction
My research focuses on seabirds foraging ecology and life history traits in relation to prey availability and local competition with industrial fisheries, using animal-borne miniaturized recorders, such as GPS recorders combined with pressure sensors, cameras, etc, taped on adults breeding small chicks to determine the at-sea behaviour of several species of seabirds breeding in South Africa, endemic to the region and threatened with extinction.
Additional affiliations
August 2013 - April 2015
Nelson Mandela University
Position
  • Honorary Research Associate
January 2013 - present
University of Cape Town
Position
  • Honorary Research Associate
January 2013 - October 2014
BirdLife South Africa
Position
  • Research Consultant

Publications

Publications (78)
Article
Full-text available
Studies investigating how mobile marine predators respond to their prey are limited due to the challenging nature of the environment. While marine top predators are increasingly easy to study thanks to developments in bio-logging technology, typically there is scant information on the distribution and abundance of their prey, largely due to the spe...
Article
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Sustainable ecotourism requires careful management of human impacts on wildlife. Contrasting responses to the disturbance caused by ecotourism are observed across taxa and within species, because species and populations can differ in their tolerance to humans. However, the mechanisms by which tolerance develops remain unclear. Penguin colonies are...
Article
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Seabirds respond to environmental changes by adjusting their breeding and foraging strategies, but this behavioural flexibility has limits. Cape gannets Morus capensis breeding in the southern Benguela on Malgas Island off South Africa’s west coast have experienced large fluctuations in natural prey availability over the past decade, linked to envi...
Article
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Drastic recent decreases in numbers of the 'Endangered' African Penguin Spheniscus demersus highlight the need for conservation efforts to reverse this trend. Habitat reduction due to former guano scraping forces penguins to breed in surface nests, which are vulnerable to predation by Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus and to extreme weather events. Here...
Article
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No-take zones may protect populations of targeted marine species and restore the integrity of marine ecosystems, but it is unclear whether they benefit top predators that rely on mobile pelagic fishes. In South Africa, foraging effort of breeding African penguins decreased by 30 per cent within three months of closing a 20 km zone to the competing...
Article
The rapid increase in seaborn trade since the 1990s has resulted in an increase in vessel-derived noise pollution, yet there is little evidence linking these activities to a decline in many marine taxa, such as seabirds. Algoa Bay, South Africa, is a marine biodiversity hotspot, providing habitats for the largest populations of endangered African P...
Article
To support sustainable growth of ocean-based economies, many countries are engaging in marine spatial planning (MSP) processes, which require robust decision-support tools. Systematic conservation planning (SCP) is commonly used in decision-making to guide spatially efficient protected area expansion. Here we contend that SCP can also be used to st...
Article
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The population of the Endangered African penguin Spheniscus demersus has decreased by > 65% in the last 20 years. A major driver of this decrease has been the reduced availability of their principal prey, sardine Sardinops sagax and anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus. To date, conservation efforts to improve prey availability have focused on spatial ma...
Preprint
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Flying seabirds are adapted for windy environments 1,2 . Despite this, storms can cause widespread strandings and wrecks, demonstrating that these seabirds are not always able to avoid or compensate for extreme conditions 3,4,5,6,7 . The maximum wind speeds that birds can operate in should vary with morphology and flight style ⁸ , but this has been...
Article
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Fear effects of predators on prey distributions are seldom considered in marine environments , especially over large spatial scales and in conservation contexts. To fill these major gaps, we tested the Seascape of Fear Hypothesis in the Benguela marine ecosystem off South Africa. Using electronic tracking data, we showed that Cape gannets and their...
Article
In coastal waters, nutrient supplies originate principally from allochthonous sources, such as inputs from rivers, estuaries or oceanic waters. Recently, it has been suggested that marine life contributes to the nutrient load, with penguin colonies being the largest contributor worldwide. This study aimed to quantify the nitrogen (N) and phosphorus...
Article
Data on marine litter is crucial to guide waste management but is scarce in third-world countries such as South Africa. We established the first baseline measurement of litter accumulation on two beaches differing in public access in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, the poorest province in South Africa. Four 10-day surveys were conducted on each beach...
Article
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Despite the importance of ecotourism in species conservation, little is known about the industry's effects on wildlife. In South Africa, some African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) colonies have become tourist attractions. The species is globally endangered, with population sizes decreasing over the past 40 years. As African penguin chicks are altri...
Article
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African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) are endangered and declining seabirds which make extensive use of vocal signals for intra‐specific vocal communication. Accordingly, passive acoustic monitoring tools could be developed as robust population monitoring methods that cause minimal disturbance to the birds. In this study, we collected soundscape r...
Article
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Background: Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus are one of the most abundant gulls in the Southern Hemisphere and can play an important role in their ecosystem. Understanding their foraging ecology is therefore important, especially in the context of anthropogenic changes of the environment. Over 35,000 Kelp Gulls breed in South Africa but little is know...
Article
Social information percolates through a variety of channels to influence animal decision making, with a notable effect on reproductive and feeding success. Colonial central place foragers can reduce time to locate ephemeral food patches and/or increase foraging rate by following their informed peers, parasitizing direction of returning successful f...
Article
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Understanding changes in abundance is crucial for conservation, but population growth rates often vary over space and time. We use 40 years of count data (1979–2019) and Bayesian state‐space models to assess the African penguin Spheniscus demersus population under IUCN Red List Criterion A. We deconstruct the overall decline in time and space to id...
Article
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Marine predators adapt their hunting techniques to locate and capture prey in response to their surrounding environment. However, little is known about how certain strategies influence foraging success and efficiency. Due to the miniaturisation of animal tracking technologies, a single individual can be equipped with multiple data loggers to obtain...
Article
In the context of marine anthropogenic debris management, monitoring is essential to assess whether mitigation measures to reduce the amounts of waste plastic entering the environment are being effective. In South Africa, baselines against which changes can be assessed include data from the 1970s to the 1990s on microplastics floating at sea, on ma...
Preprint
Full-text available
African Penguin Spheniscus demersus numbers have declined steadily over three generations, resulting in a loss of nearly 60% since of 1989. The breeding population reached an historic low of ~20,850 pairs in 2019. We use count data and JARA, a generalized Bayesian state-space tool for estimating extinction risk estimates under IUCN Red List Criteri...
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Ecosystem‐based management of fisheries aims to allow sustainable use of fished stocks while keeping impacts upon ecosystems within safe ecological limits. Both the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets promote these aims. We evaluate implementation of ecosystem‐based management in six case‐study fisheries...
Article
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Seabirds often have wide distribution ranges and may travel relatively long distances to breeding grounds, often crossing jurisdictional boundaries. When engaged in foraging behaviour, seabirds are prone to interact with different fisheries and suffer incidental mortality. We assessed the spatial use of foraging Magellanic penguins Spheniscus magel...
Article
The African Penguin Spheniscus demersus is an endangered seabird endemic to southern Africa, and killing sprees by terrestrial predators have been one of the main threats for its mainland colonies. The methods employed to manage predators may differ depending on the species involved, therefore the implementation of strategies to limit the impacts o...
Article
Full-text available
The Cape Gannet Morus capensis is one of several seabird species endemic to the Benguela upwelling ecosystem (BUS) but whose population has recently decreased, leading to an unfavourable IUCN Red List assessment. Application of ‘JARA’ (‘Just Another Red-List Assessment,’ a Bayesian state-space tool used for IUCN Red List assessments) to updated inf...
Article
Social cohesion and prey location in seabirds are largely enabled through visual and olfactory signals, but these behavioural aspects could potentially also be enhanced through acoustic transfer of information. Should this be the case, calling behaviour could be influenced by different social‐ecological stimuli. African Penguins Spheniscus demersus...
Article
African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) are pursuit-diving seabirds endemic to the coast of southern Africa. In this study, we investigate the presence of seashells and anthropogenic debris (e.g. plastic, glass, nylon) in the stomach contents of adult African penguins, as determined from sampling of live penguins through the water off-loading techni...
Article
1.Understanding functional relationships between seabirds and prey can play an important role in the sustainable management of fisheries that compete for the same resources yet data linking the foraging performance of seabirds directly with concurrent information on prey supplies remain limited. 2.We assess the influence of prey availability on the...
Article
Optimal foraging theory suggests that the environment (e.g. distribution of resource patches) will shape an individual's decision to exploit the resource available or explore other locations. Together with the environment and the social context, individual characteristics such as personality have been recently discovered to affect behaviour, offeri...
Article
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In 2017, South Africa became the first African country to draft Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) legislation. The underlying legal framework supports the achievement of ecological, social and economic objectives, but a national policy to fast track the oceans economy provides a challenge for ecosystem-based approaches to MSP. During the 2018 Internati...
Article
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Fisheries compete with seabirds for vanishing marine resources, but also produce fishery waste consumed by seabirds. Marine birds may therefore avoid or seek fishing vessels, and have evolved complex, plastic behavioural responses to vessel presence. Understanding these responses is essential to the conservation of a globally declining seabird comm...
Article
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Nest usurpation is a relatively common phenomenon in birds but remains poorly documented in penguins. This behaviour may advantage bolder and aggressive individuals and influence population dynamics by affecting breeding success. African Penguins Spheniscus demersus are aggressive towards conspecifics during the breeding season when competing for t...
Article
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Colour aberrations among wild birds are of long-time interest because they are uncommon, particularly in seabirds, although recent publications have revealed varying forms of aberrations in cormorants and penguins. In African Penguins Spheniscus demersus, there have been previous sightings of abnormal plumages, particularly in Algoa Bay, South Afri...
Article
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Global forage-fish landings are increasing, with potentially grave consequences for marine ecosystems. Predators of forage fish may be influenced by this harvest, but the nature of these effects is contentious. Experimental fishery manipulations offer the best solution to quantify population-level impacts, but are rare. We used Bayesian inference t...
Article
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The concept of individual behavioural consistency has received a great deal of attention in the past 2 decades. However, the fitness benefits of being consistent in varying environmental conditions remain poorly explored. Such information is strongly relevant to our understanding of ecological processes, but also for predicting how some individuals...
Article
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Seismic surveys in search for oil or gas under the seabed, produce the most intense man-made ocean noise with known impacts on invertebrates, fish and marine mammals. No evidence to date exists, however, about potential impacts on seabirds. Penguins may be expected to be particularly affected by loud underwater sounds, due to their largely aquatic...
Article
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Throughout the animal kingdom, individual variations in reproductive success are is commonly observed, even under similar environmental conditions. However, the mechanisms behind such differences remain unclear. The notion of behavioural consistency in animals has developed rapidly since the early 21st century and can partly explain individual diff...
Article
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Marine piscivores have evolved a variety of morphological and behavioural adaptations, including group foraging, to optimize foraging efficiency when targeting shoaling fish. For penguins that are known to associate at sea and feed on these prey resources, there is nonetheless a lack of empirical evidence to support improved foraging efficiency whe...
Article
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Small pelagic fish play a significant role in regulating the foraging activities and population trends of marine top predators in upwelling ecosystems, yet there is little information on oceanographic drivers of fish assemblages at temporal and spatial scales relevant to their predators. The survival of the Endangered African penguin Spheniscus dem...
Article
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Biased offspring sex ratio is relatively rare in birds and sex allocation can vary with environmental conditions, with the larger and more costly sex, which can be either the male or female depending on species, favoured during high food availability. Sex-specific parental investment may lead to biased mortality and, coupled with unequal production...
Article
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Breeding seabirds often need to locate prey in spatially confined search areas on short temporal scales. Ocean physical features such as thermoclines are used as foraging cues since they concentrate and thus increase the likelihood of locating prey. However, in highly variable environments, it is less well understood how these features act as forag...
Article
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Fisheries are often accused of starving vulnerable seabirds, yet evidence for this claim is scarce. Foraging energetics may provide efficient, short-term indicators of the fitness status of seabirds competing with fisheries. We used this approach in Cape gannets (Morus capensis) from Malgas Island, South Africa, which feed primarily on small pelagi...
Article
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Norwegian Northern Gannet Morus bassanus populations exhibit contrasting trends on a regional scale, with several colony extinctions having occurred in recent decades. In an attempt to understand the ecological drivers of such variability, we tested whether resource availability is a factor limiting the current development of gannetries in the Lofo...
Article
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This account presents the first known observations of Cape Gannet Morus capensis fledgling mortalities as a result of aggressive nest defence behaviour by African Penguins Spheniscus demersus. Observations were conducted in 2013 on Bird Island, Algoa Bay, South Africa ? the world's largest breeding colony of Cape Gannets. Twentyeight attacks were w...
Article
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Sex-biased mortality can increase the risk of extinction of threatened populations. Numbers of the Endangered African penguins Spheniscus demersus are decreasing rapidly and the smaller size of females associated with their higher foraging effort during the breeding season may put them more at risk than males. Using records from 2004-2012 from a re...
Article
Full-text available
Norwegian Northern Gannet Morus bassanus populations exhibit contrasted trends at a regional scale and several colony extinctions occurred in recent decades. In an attempt to understand the ecological drivers of such variability, we tested whether resource availability is a factor limiting the current development of gannetries in the Lofoten/Vester...
Article
Full-text available
African penguins Spheniscus demersus naturally breed in guano burrows which provide shelter from predators and extreme weather conditions. Past guano harvesting has removed this habitat and artificial nests of different types have been deployed, with previous research identifying variable success of these different types. We investigated climate co...
Article
Climate change and fishing impact marine ecosystems, potentially modifying the availability of small pelagic fish to marine top predators. Some seabirds that primarily rely upon these resources have switched to feeding on fishery waste. It has therefore been argued that seabirds might become dependent upon this artificial resource. To test this hyp...
Article
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Sexual differences in at-sea behaviour of seabirds often derive from size dimorphism and may lead to both resource partitioning and diverging threats between the sexes. Spheniscids are one of the least dimorphic of the seabird families, and the most threatened. In many instances, diet differs between the sexes in penguins, but few studies have comp...
Article
Full-text available
Industrial fishing can profoundly alter marine environments, and no-take zones are an important tool to achieve sustainable fishing and re-establish ecosystem integrity. However, the potential benefits for vagile species such as top predators are still questioned. The numbers of endangered African penguins Spheniscus demersus have halved since 2004...
Article
Full-text available
Once one of the most numerous seabirds of the Benguela upwelling system, the population of Cape cormorants Phalacrocorax capensis has decreased by 60% in the last three decades and the species is listed as Near-threatened. Declines in prey availability and/or abundance brought about by recent changes in the distribution of pelagic fish stocks and i...
Article
Full-text available
Using a multi-disciplinary approach, we evaluated the potential consequences of long-term contrasting prey availability on the condition Cape gannets Morus capensis. We compared breeding adults from a decreasing colony on Malgas Island off the west coast of South Africa, where the abundance of small pelagic fish has de-creased, with an increasing c...
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We report co-operative group foraging in the African Penguin Spheniscus demersus. Groups of approximately 25–165 African Penguins were observed circling schools of pelagic fish, sometimes forcing them to the surface. During this behaviour 66–75% of penguins were underwater at any given time. Smaller numbers of African Penguins also joined foraging...