Paper on the Impact of Flipper Bands on Penguins [vs Transponders]

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Paper on the Impact of Flipper Bands on Penguins [vs Transponders]
From: Laurie&Leanne Knight <>
Date: Sat, 06 Apr 2002 15:48:14 +1000
I came across the following item in my travels the other week and have appended
the summary.  I can forward a text version to those who so request.

Basically this is a different kettle of fish [to use an old metaphor] to ID
issues previously discussed on this list.  I think the key point here is that
there is an alternative technology readily available, and although there a
qualitative differences in how it is used from flipper banding, and there are
some unresolved issues, that  subcutaneous transponders are a preferable
alternative - particularly when the little fellas can be relied on to return to
their roosts [means you can monitor without actually being there].

Anyhow, an interesting read.


Functional Ecology Volume 16 Issue 1 Page 141 - February 2002 
The potential costs of flipper-bands to penguins 
S. Jackson* and R. P. Wilson


The published literature on the effects of flipper-bands on penguin ecology is
reviewed. Six published studies show the following.

In Adélie Penguins Pygoscelis adeliae, flipper-bands directly damaged flippers,
increased swimming costs by 24, decreased survival in the first year after
banding by 28, and may have accelerated decline of a dwindling colony by 3.

Adult return rates to colonies among flipper-banded Adélie, Chinstrap P.
antarctica and Gentoo P. papua Penguins decreased by 8, 12 and 25, 
respectively, between single- and double-banded penguins. Juvenile return rates
among Gentoo Penguins were reduced by 10·5. Return rates to the colony among
double-banded King Penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus were 31·3 and 6·7 lower than
among single-banded birds in the first and second years after banding,
respectively, and single flipper-banded birds showed annual survival rates 21·1
lower than those of birds fitted with subcutaneous 

Among Royal Penguins Eudyptes schlegeli, there were no differences between chick
growth, adult over-winter survival and fledging success between flipper-banded
birds and birds fitted with transponders.

Adélie Penguin adult annual survival rates were lower among flipper-banded 
birds than among unbanded birds.

On the basis of dive profiles for Adélie Penguins, it is estimated that
increased swimming costs of 5 reduce prey contact time by 10, and of 24 reduce
prey contact time by 48. These estimated knock-on or cumulative costs coupled
with the survival and breeding costs shown by the majority of published field
studies suggest that data collected on some flipper-banded populations are 

The advantages and disadvantages of an alternative long-term marking technique,
subcutaneously implanted passively interrogated transponder tags, are discussed.
Research projects currently testing transponders and flipper-bands worldwide 
are listed.

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