Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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Read about recent developments and findings in procellariiform science and conservation relevant to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels in ACAP Latest News.

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Big boys stay south: latitudinal non-breeding distribution of Antarctic Southern Giant Petrels

Lucas Krüger (Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, University of Coimbra, Portugal) and colleagues have published in the journal Antarctic Science on gender differences in distribution of non-breeding Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus tracked from the South Shetland Islands.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Literature reports that body size can be associated with latitudinal distribution, for instance larger animals inhabit higher latitudes and colder habitats.  This rule can be applied for species and populations within a species.  The potential influence of body size on non-breeding distribution and habitat use at the intra-population level was investigated for southern giant petrels Macronectes giganteus (Gmelin) from Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands.  The non-breeding distribution of 23 individuals was tracked, and total body length, culmen length, wing length, wing load and body mass were measured.  Positions of core areas were used to estimate the latitudinal distribution of each individual.  Smaller individuals were found to be associated more with lower latitudes, where warmer conditions and more coastal and productive waters prevail, whereas large males were associated more with higher latitudes, with colder conditions near sea ice caps, presumably feeding on carrion or preying on penguins.  This association reflects a latitudinal gradient, with smaller individuals positioning themselves towards the north, and larger individuals towards the south.  In this case, body size, individual distribution and habitat use were found to be associated, highlighting the importance of studying potential effects of individual body size on the ecology of seabirds.”

 

White-phase Southern Giant Petrel on the snow, photograph by Michael Dunn

Reference:

Krüger, L., Paiva, V.H., Finger, J,V.G. & Petersen, E. 2018.  Intra-population variability of the non-breeding distribution of southern giant petrels Macronectes giganteus is mediated by individual body size.  Antarctic Science 30: 271-277.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 August 2019

Restoring bird populations, Nottingham, UK, April 2020: call for papers

“Restoring bird populations: scaling from species to ecosystems” is a conference that will be held in Nottingham, UK over 7-9 April 2020, organized by the British Ornithologists' Union.

“This landmark international conference will bring together the latest science underpinning the restoration of bird species and their ecosystems, focusing on successes, challenges and future directions.  This 2020 event coincides with a milestone year for assessing Aichi targets for biodiversity conservation, and comes on the eve of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration that will run from 2021-2030.  It will be of broad interest to conservation-, population- and community-ecologists, practitioners and policy makers.”

Read more here on submitting abstracts (deadlines in September) and keynote speakers.

Restoring island seabird populations by eradicating invasive rodents: a helicopter moves poison bait from ship to shore

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 August 2019

Laysan Albatrosses fledge from Kahuku Point on the Hawaiian island of Oahu for the first time

The North Shore Community Land Trust has reported the successful fledging of three Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis chicks from Kahuku Point (Kalaeokaunaʻoa) on the northern shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  The first chick fledged on 16 July, followed by the final chick which left on 03 August.  Six eggs were laid at the locality in the 2018/19 season, all of which hatched.  However, two chicks did not survive long, the remaining four being metal and colour banded in May.  One of these banded chicks died from as yet unknown causes, resulting in an overall breeding success of 50%.  A necropsy is awaited on this last chick to die according to Sheldon Plentovich of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

One of the Kahuku Point Laysan Albatross chicks get watched from behind a roped-off section, photograph by Laurie Flores

These are the first Laysan Albatrosses to fledge from Kahuku Point, following successful efforts to protect the breeding birds from introduced predators and human disturbance (click here).  The first chick to fledge was named “Manupe'ia,” or “Soaring Bird” in Hawaiian, the second chick “Manulani,” translated to “Heavenly Bird and the final chick named “Hopena,” or “Destiny”, all by Hauʻula Elementary School students, who had previously visited the birds on a school outing.

Laysan Albatross chick Manupeʻia, still with some down around its neck, practices take-offs on 14 July, two days before it fledged; photograph by Sue Cortes

“This marks an important milestone in the establishment of an emerging colony of the ground-nesting seabirds, whose primary habitat in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is increasingly threatened by sea level rise.  Laysan albatrosses, a near threatened species called mōlī in Hawaiian, have used the Kahuku Point area since at least 1978.  Over the years, the species sporadically attempted to breed in the area, but was not successful due to invasive mammalian predators like mongooses, cats, rats and dogs, which killed a chick and at least five adults in 1996.”

Read more about the North Shore Community Land Trust's work with Kahuku's albatrosses in its August 2019 Newsletter.

With thanks to Sheldon Plentovich, Pacific Islands Coastal Program Coordinator, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Office, 21 August 2019

Flutter over the Tasman: a New Zealand endemic shearwater reaches Australian waters in winter

Martin Berg (Centre for Animal Movement Research, Lund University, Sweden) and colleagues have published open access in the online journal PLoS ONE on at-sea movements of tracked Fluttering Shearwaters Puffnius gavia (Least Concern although declining), a species endemic to New Zealand.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We present the first study to examine the year-round distribution, activity patterns, and habitat use of one of New Zealand’s most common seabirds, the fluttering shearwater (Puffinus gavia).  Seven adults from Burgess Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, and one individual from Long Island, in the Marlborough Sounds, were successfully tracked with combined light-saltwater immersion loggers for one to three years.  Our tracking data confirms that fluttering shearwaters employ different overwintering dispersal strategies, where three out of eight individuals, for at least one of the three years when they were being tracked, crossed the Tasman Sea to forage over coastal waters along eastern Tasmania and southeastern Australia.  Resident birds stayed confined to waters of northern and central New Zealand year-round.  Although birds frequently foraged over pelagic shelf waters, the majority of tracking locations were found over shallow waters close to the coast.  All birds foraged predominantly in daylight and frequently visited the colony at night throughout the year.  We found no significant inter-seasonal differences in the activity patterns, or between migratory and resident individuals.  Although further studies of inter-colony variation in different age groups will be necessary, this study presents novel insights into year-round distribution, activity patterns and habitat use of the fluttering shearwater, which provide valuable baseline information for conservation as well as for further ecological studies.”

 

Fluttering Shearwater at sea, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

Reference:

Berg, M., Linnebjerg, J.F., Taylor, G., Ismar-Rebitz, S.M.H., Bell, M., Gaskin, C.P., Åkesson, S. & Rayner, M.J. 2019.  Year-round distribution, activity patterns and habitat use of a poorly studied pelagic seabird, the fluttering shearwater Puffinus gavia.  PLoS ONE 14(8): e0219986. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0219986.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 August 2019

Honouring past marine ornithologists on World Albatross Day on 19 June: a call for names

Each year World Albatross Day intends to honour those involved with research and conservation of procellariform seabirds who have sadly passed away in the previous 12 months.

For the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June next year the memorial roll will list all those who have worked with albatrosses and petrels and who have died in the last three decades since the first discussions were held in 1991 at a meeting of the Convention on Migratory Species that eventually led to the Agreement being signed in 2001 on 19 June in Canberra, Australia.

A certainly incomplete list includes seabird researchers Peter Prince (d. 1998), Gerry Clark (d. 1999), Luis Monteiro (d. 1999), Ronald Lockley (d. 2000), Alec Zino (d. 2004), Irynej Skira (d. 2005), Larry Spear (d. 2006), Karl Kenyon (d. 2007), Jim Enticott (d. 2008), John Warham (d. 2010), Mike Imber (d. 2011), Lance Tickell (d. 2014), Norbert Klages (d. 2017), Chandler Robbins (d. 2017) and Joe Sultana (d. 2018).

A commercial fisher renowned for supporting seabird bycatch research in Brazil, Celso Rocha de Oliveira, who passed away this year should also be added to the memorial roll, as should Hamish Saunders who was swept off Australia’s Pedra Branca in a storm and drowned in 2003 while helping monitor Near Threatened Shy Albatrosses Thalassarche cauta.  A Trust has been established in his name.

Research Assistant Hamish Saunders at the camping site on Pedra Branca before the storm hit from which he drowned

ACAP’s This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. will be pleased to hear of others to add to the above list, along with a few details of their work and passing; with links to obituaries if such exist.  It has been a privilege to have known many of those listed here, co-authoring scientific papers with several of them.  Vale all.

With thanks to Rosemary Gales and Pete McClelland.

Reference:

Cooper, J., Baker, G.B., Double, M.C., Gales, R., Papworth, W,, Tasker, M.L. & Waugh, S.M. 2006.  The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels: rationale, history, progress and the way forward.  Marine Ornithology 34: 1-5. http://www.marineornithology.org/content/get.cgi?rn=676.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 August 2019

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