IPECS is thrilled to announce the Student Presenters for our 1st Early Career Forum. Talks will begin at 9:00 AM on Sunday, 4 September 2016, as part of our 2nd International Penguin Careers Workshop at the Two Oceans Aquarium on the Cape Town waterfront. You can still register to attend this free workshop, hosted in partnership with the 9th International Penguin Conference (#IPC9) and sponsored by The Global Penguin Society.
Mentors will evaluate presenters based upon their abstract, research question, methods, and conclusions as well as the organization and presentation (e.g., visuals, audience engagement) of their talk. All registered attendees will also have the chance to evaluate presenters. At the end of the day, Best Student Presentation will be awarded based upon all feedback. Presentations will be recorded and displayed afterwards on our website.
Presenters will speak in alphabetical order by surname, in 15-minute blocks:
Presentation: Tracking a marine predator to design flexible boundaries of marine protected areas for an ecosystem approach to fisheries
Authors: Brigitte Heylen , Lorien Pichegru 
 EMBC+ International Master in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, Ghent University, Belgium  DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute & Coastal and Marine Research Institute at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
ABSTRACT: Resource competition between marine predators and fisheries is one of the main causes behind dwindling seabird populations. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are known to attenuate these effects of fisheries when integrated into an ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF). Boundaries of these MPAs can be designed in an adaptive, flexible way when all anthropogenic threats on seabird populations and human socio-economic needs are included in the planning process. Such a pragmatic approach would be useful in conservation measures for African penguins, since population numbers of this endangered species have been declining for the past decade due to decreased availability of prey. In South Africa, an attempt at EAF has been made with experimental fisheries closures from 2008 onwards. We looked at the effectiveness of these closures in Algoa Bay and explored the suitability of a newly proposed zoned MPA. Using GPS loggers, we studied the foraging dispersal of African penguins in Algoa Bay to assess their spatial overlap with fisheries catches during that period. Data on those fisheries catches, provided by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, showed that the amount of fishing in Algoa Bay has been decreasing since 2012, probably because of limited fish abundance. Nevertheless, statistical models showed a significant positive impact of fisheries closures on African penguins' foraging behaviour. The presence of prey is probably the main cue to adapt their foraging strategies, and this is likely to be dependent on environmental features and fishing pressure. Geospatial mapping revealed a strong overlap between the foraging range of African penguin and fisheries in Algoa Bay from 2008 till 2015. Conversely, the no-take zones of the proposed MPA cover less than half of that foraging range. We can therefore conclude that the current MPA proposal is not sufficient to increase population numbers of African penguins. Additionally, more quantitative research is necessary to give detailed recommendations on the flexibility of the MPA's boundaries to design a suitable compromise for all stakeholders involved. The results of our study can be used to justify such research.
Presentation: Aspects of the reproduction, endocrinology, semen characteristics and cryopreservation in African penguin (Spheniscus demersus)
Authors: P.S. Mafunda [1,2], A. Kotze [2,3], L. Maree [1,2], G. Van der Host [1,2]
 Department of Medical Bioscience, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville 7535, South Africa
 Department of Research and Scientific Services, National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, 323 Boom Street, Pretoria, 0001
 Genetics Department, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
ABSTRACT: In the marine environment, penguins have been described as curators and serve a critical role in ecological balance. The African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is undergoing a rapid population decline, mainly due to disturbances in their natural habitat. The penguin species was up-listed from vulnerable to endangered on the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species in 2010 and thus urgent conservation action is required. Integral to long-term conservation action is basic knowledge of its reproductive biology. The main aim of this investigation was to evaluate techniques for the collection of semen in African penguin and to determine sperm quality in order to cryopreserve sperm for in vitro fertilization (IVF) purposes of captive and wild populations. Little is known about the general biology of most of this species, including the fundamentals of reproductive physiology. Twelve (six females and six males, n=4 were breeding pairs) captive African penguins were monitored for hormone (estradiol, testosterone, progesterone) levels prior to and after the egg laying period. Semen was collected once a week during the breeding season from one captive African penguin. Ejaculates (n=33) were obtained over two breeding seasons (Jan-Feb and Jun-Oct) and evaluated for semen volume, sperm concentration, sperm function (sperm motility) and sperm morphology. Estradiol levels showed a biphasic pattern in three of the four breeding females. Semen volume ranged from 0.01 to 0.1 ml, sperm concentration from 977.9 to 7291.6 x106/ml and total number of sperm per sample ranged from 3.42 to 481.16 x106. The percentage total motility was between 40.1 and 80.4%. Sperm quality and semen parameters were similar across all samples collected over breeding seasons. In comparison to fresh semen, percentage total motility of thawed semen decreased to 24.7% after two hours in liquid nitrogen. Since spermatozoa differ notably in their morphology within species, phase-contrast microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy were used to examine structural abnormalities. This research represents a critical step in the conservation and long-term survival of the African penguin.
Presentation: Nest Defence behaviour and human disturbance: are we chasing shy individuals? Consequences on African Penguin population dynamics.
Authors: G. Traisnel , L. Pichegru 
 DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, PO Box 77000, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa
ABSTRACT: Increasing human populations raise large concerns about the impact of their disturbance on wildlife populations. This has prompted many studies on animal stress response to human disturbance, however, few studies have investigated how individuals respond to disturbance in relation to their personality. The number of studies focussing on personality have considerably increased in the past decade which highlights the importance of taking this behavioural aspect in consideration. Individual nest defence involves aggressiveness and boldness, two personality traits, which are known to be consistent within individuals across time and contexts (i.e. situations encountered) in several species. Nest defence is an important component of parental care which implies a compromise between individual survival and reproductive success. In this context, we aimed to look at personality response to human disturbance for a threatened species such as the endangered African Penguin Spheniscus demersus, where relatively large proportions of the population breed in colonies open to the public. To understand potential impact of human disturbance on the population dynamics, we assessed whether African penguin personalities were affected by human disturbance on Bird Island, Algoa Bay. During two breeding seasons of contrasting food availability (i.e. high and low prey availability), we investigated individual nest defence behaviour in response to a human approach based on the antipredator response, “flight or fight”. We categorised individuals as “shy”, “intermediate” or “aggressive” nest defenders in relation to the level of human disturbance (i.e. extremely disturbed to rarely disturbed areas) and the proximity of their nests to human pathways. We also included individual sex and index of fitness as chick growth and nest success. Preliminary results indicate that individual nest defence behaviour was consistent throughout the breeding season and, consequently could be confidently related to individual personality. Behaviours were similar between males and females despite a suggestive trend of a larger number of shy females. During periods of high food availability, the number of aggressive individuals was higher in areas with high levels of disturbance, while more shy individuals were located where disturbance was limited. However, the number of shy individuals breeding decreased significantly in association with a decline of food availability, suggesting a potential higher number of early breeding failure from shy individuals when food availability is low. These results indicate that individual personality could potentially influence individual fitness and population dynamics.
Presentation: Heat stress in African penguins in the face of climate change
Authors: Noelle Tubbs , Lorien Pichegru , Peter G. Ryan , Jonathan A. Green 
 Percy Fitzpatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
 Percy Fitzpatrick Institute, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
 School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
ABSTRACT: The African Penguin was classified as ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN in 2010, due to the loss of 70% of its population in the last decade. Among the numerous threats facing the African Penguin, one of the least studied is the risk of breeding failure due to heat stress. Habitat loss from former guano scraping is a major issue as it exacerbates heat stress. Historically, most African Penguins bred in guano burrows that provided a buffered microclimate and shelter from predators. Without the protection of a burrow, adults may leave their nests to cool down in the sea during very high temperatures. This is often fatal for broods in surface nests due to predation and exposure. Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather, worsening the situation. Previous studies indicate that the impacts of high temperatures can be reduced by the use of artificial nests. However, whether they can fully replace natural burrows is not well understood. This study sought to 1) determine the temperature where heat stress begins in adult African Penguins 2) understand penguins’ behavioural responses to high temperatures, 3) estimate inter-colony temperature differences related to topography, 4) determine how extreme weather events affect breeding success and 5) evaluate the effectiveness of the artificial nests currently in use. Linear mixed effects models showed that penguins’ behavioural thermoregulation methods could no longer cope with the rise in ambient temperatures above 28.5°C.This is almost 2°C lower than expected from studies on similar penguin species, suggesting that African Penguins are particularly sensitive to climate change. Field-based studies using operative temperature models of adult African Penguins suggested that heat stress may be occurring more often and at lower air temperatures than anticipated. Artificial nests experience hightemperatures in summer, commonly far above African Penguins’ heat stress point. Exposure to sun increased the ambient temperature within all artificial nest types, but did not significantly affect the temperature within natural burrows, suggesting that current artificial burrows do not adequately protect penguins from heat stress. The results of this study will provide managers with a model to predict how African Penguin populations may be affected by future climate change, as well as informing management actions to limit the impacts on penguins.
Presentation: King penguins sleeping in a loud colony; behavioural response to sound stimuli
Authors: Tessa van Walsum , Dr. Lewis Halsey , Dr. Yves Handrich , Dr. Enrico Rezende 
 University of Roehampton, UK
 University of Strasbourg, France
ABSTRACT: The king penguin colony is lively and highly vocal. During the austral summer king penguins engage in courtship behaviour, or seek their mate and chick in the vastness of the colony. King penguins have eccentric and elaborate calls to attract mates and can recognise the call of their chick and partner from great distances, whilst impressive this also means there is a continuous level of sound present within the colony. Yet the penguins rest and sleep a number of hours amidst these high volumes of sound (up to 100 dB for a penguin calling within 60 cm away) seemingly undisturbed.
Sleep is a behavioural shutdown of the animal, meaning if it responds to its surroundings it will do so slower than when awake. In this state the animal reduces its energetic cost but in doing so, increases the risk of predation. King penguins have few land predators and thus are under little risk, with the exception of an Elephant seal potentially barging through the colony (crushing the penguin that moves too little and/or too late), or a giant petrel predation. Thus presumably king penguins are able to undertake deep sleep without increasing the risk of predation. In order to test this we applied sound stimuli to both wakeful and sleeping penguins within the colony.
Our study focused on the behavioural response of king penguins to specific sound stimuli within the colony on Crozet Island (46.42° S, 51.90° E during the austral summer of 2015 – 2016. We approached both wakeful and sleeping penguins, and we placed a small tripod mounted with a camera and a speaker. We recorded the time it took for the penguin to respond (response time) and the highest level of the behavioural response that followed (response code). Response code was divided into 5 categories; (0) no response, (1) looking up and around but stay in position, (2) moving away after >5 seconds, (3) moving away between 2 – 5 seconds, (4) immediately moving away (<2 seconds) combined with high activity (i.e. slapping flippers, or biting).
We applied sound stimuli (16 stimuli in total, which increase in volume over a 15 second period of time) to quantify their arousal threshold and behavioural response as a measure of sleep depth. The sound stimuli are divided in to 3 categories; (1) unknown/known predator sounds, (2) colony sounds, (3) single frequency stimuli and control. We hypothesised that sleeping penguins would respond later to the presented sounds, indicating an increase in sleep depth, yet with higher response codes as a sleeping penguin is more vulnerable to possible threats.
We found that both sleeping and wakeful penguins respond at similar time to the presented stimuli, yet sleeping penguins had significantly higher response codes to almost every sound stimulus. Our findings are discussed further in the presentation.