Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Weeding out Golden Crownbeard on USA’s Midway Atoll for its Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses

Golden Crownbeard Verbesina encelioides is an aggressive annual plant  that has been introduced and has spread widely over the USA’s Midway Atoll in the Hawaiian North-western  Islands (NWHI).

The yellow-flowered daisy-like plant grows head-high, creating a dense barrier that ACAP-listed Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. albatrus Albatrosses are unable to walk through, much less breed within.  For these birds who do find a place to lay their eggs, the tangle of flowering stems limits airflow to nests, leaving chicks vulnerable to dehydration and to death.

 

Densely-breeding Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses in the North-western Hawaiian Islands

A few years ago the drought-tolerant and fast-growing Golden Crownbeard covered 80% of the three islands that make up Midway.  In the late 1990s, the US Fish and Wildlife Service began removing the plants by hand spraying.  It is expected that Golden Crownbeard will be eradicated from the smaller Eastern Island and Spit Island by early 2017, with the last seedlings to be removed from the bigger Sand Island by 2018.  As the invasive plant removed native Cyperus grass is being planted. The native grasses allow for more airflow to the nests as well as more breeding space.

Read more here.

Attempts are also being made to eradicate Golden Crownbeard on the NHWI's Kure Atoll.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 October 2015

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