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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The public want to see fewer feral cats: a Hawaiian study where they prey upon the endemic and threatened Hawaiian Petrels and Newell’s Shearwaters

Cheryl Lohr and Christopher Lepczyk (Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa) write in the journal Conservation Biology on the public’s views on feral cats Felis catus in Hawaii, where they are significant predators of Vulnerable Hawaiian Petrels Pterodroma sandwichensis and Endangered Newell’s Shearwaters Puffinus newelli.  Both of these burrowing species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.  Trap-neuter-release (TNR) was the least preferred technique for managing feral cats.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Feral cats are abundant in many parts of the world and a source of conservation conflict.  Our goal was to clarify the beliefs and desires held by stakeholders regarding feral cat abundance and management.  We measured people's desired abundance of feral cats in the Hawaiian Islands and identified an order of preference for 7 feral cat management techniques. In 2011 we disseminated a survey to 5407 Hawaii residents.  Approximately 46% of preidentified stakeholders and 20% of random residents responded to the survey (1510 surveys returned).  Results from the potential for conflict index revealed a high level of consensus (86.9% of respondents) that feral cat abundance should be decreased.  The 3 most common explanatory variables for respondents’ stated desires were enjoyment from seeing feral cats (84%), intrinsic value of feral cats (12%), and threat to native fauna (73%).  The frequency with which respondents saw cats and change in the perceived abundance of cats also affected respondent's desired abundance of cats; 41.3% of respondents stated that they saw feral cats daily and 44.7% stated that the cat population had increased in recent years. Other potential environmental impacts of feral cats had little affect [sic] on desired abundance.  The majority of respondents (78%) supported removing feral cats from the natural environment permanently.  Consensus convergence models with data from 1388 respondents who completed the relevant questions showed live capture and lethal injection was the most preferred technique and trap-neuter-release was the least preferred technique for managing feral cats.  However, the acceptability of each technique varied among stakeholders. Our results suggest that the majority of Hawaii's residents would like to see effective management that reduces the abundance of feral or free-roaming cats.”

A feral cat gets caged, photograph by Jerome Legrand

Hawaiian Petrel, photograph by Andre Raine

Newell's Shearwater, photograph by Eric Vanderwerf

Click here for an NGO view of the study.

Reference:

Lohr, C.A. & Lepczyk, C.A. 2013.  Desires and management preferences of stakeholders regarding feral cats in the Hawaiian Islands.  Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12201.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 15 February 2014

Looking a little odd for the camera: hybrid Black-Footed and Laysan Albatrosses illustrated

Cameron Rutt (Blooming Glen, Pennsylvania, USA) writes in the journal Western Birds on hybridization in the Black-Footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses.  Nice pics, including of birds flying and on the sea.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Although the Laysan (Phoebastria immutabilis) and Black-footed Albatrosses (P. nigripes) have been known to hybridize for more than a century, little has been published regarding plumage variation of the hybrid progeny.  During six months of field work on Laysan, Hawaii, I noted 13 possible hybrids (five presumed F1 hybrids, three possible F2 backcrosses with the Black-footed Albatross, and at least four possible F2 backcrosses with the Laysan Albatross).  Apparent F2 backcrosses with the Black-footed Albatross differ from it most noticeably in their black-and-white underwings and much more extensive white circling the face.  Apparent F2 backcrosses with the Laysan Albatross differ from that species most noticeably in their extensive gray smudging throughout the body and darker underwing coverts.  Apparent F2 backcrosses interbreed with the Black-footed Albatross, the first evidence of any hybrid pairing with that parental species.”

A Black-footed-Laysan Albatross hybrid, photograph by Lindsay Young

Reference:

Rutt, C 2013.  Hybridization of the Black-Footed and Laysan Albatrosses.  Western Birds 44: 322-333.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 14 February 2014

Getting older, getting colder: male Wandering Albatrosses forage south as they age

Audrey Jaeger (Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, France) and colleagues, publishing in the journal Ecology, look at changes in the foraging zones utilized by Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans as they age.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Evidence of age-dependent changes in foraging behavior of free-ranging individuals is scarce, especially at older stages.  Using the isotopic niche as a proxy of the trophic niche during both the breeding (blood) and inter-nesting (feather) periods, we report here empirical evidence for age-, gender- and breeding status-dependent foraging ecology and examine its potential consequences on subsequent reproduction and survival in an extremely long-lived species, the wandering albatross.  Immature wandering albatrosses of both sexes forage in the subtropics (δ13C) and feed at the same trophic position (δ15N) than the adults.  In contrast to immature birds, adult females forage on average at northern latitudes than males, with both sexes feeding in the subtropics during the inter-nesting period, and males, not females, favouring subantartic [sic] waters during incubation.  In contrast to adult females, males showed a unique pattern among birds and mammals of a continuous change with age in their main feeding habitat by foraging progressively further south in colder waters during both the breeding and inter-nesting periods.  In males, foraging at higher latitudes (lower feather δ13C values) is associated with a lower probability to breed during the following years compared to other birds, but with no effect on their probability to survive.  Foraging in cold and windy waters may be linked to foraging impairment that might explain different life history trade-offs and lower investment in reproduction with age.  This key point requires further longitudinal investigations and/or studies examining foraging success and energy budget of birds feeding in different water masses.”

A Wandering Albatross forages in Antarctic waters, photograph by John Chardine

Click here to access a related publication by the CEBC team.

Reference:

Jaeger, A., Goutte, A., Lecomte, V.J., Richard, P., Chastel, O., Barbraud, C., Weimerskirch, H. & Cherel, Y. In Press.  Age, sex and breeding status shape a complex foraging pattern in an extremely long-lived seabird.  Ecology  doi.org/10.1890/13-1376.1.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 February 2014

A Chilean workshop discusses the achievements and progress of the National Plan of Action for the Pink-footed Shearwater

The Vulnerable Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus, a Chilean breeding endemic species, breeds on Mocha and Juan Fernández Islands off central Chile (click here).  The species is a transequatorial migrant reaching western North America including the Gulf of Alaska and southern Bering Sea.

International concern about the species is reflected in its recent listing as Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife (COSEWIC) in Canada and as of Common Concern by the Canada/Mexico/U.S. Trilateral Committee.  This has triggered several site-specific Conservation Plans for the species. In Chile, the Corporación Nacional Forestal (National Forestry Corporation) developed a National Plan of Action for the Pink-footed Shearwater in 2007.

A workshop was held in Valparaíso in the Instituto de Fomento Pesquero (Fisheries Development Institute) on 15 January.  The workshop’s main goal was to assess the status of the Chilean National Plan of Action for the Pink-footed Shearwater and share the state of knowledge for the species by reviewing the main activities implemented for addressing threats both on land and at sea.

Attendants at the one-day workshop in the Instituto de Fomento Pesquero

The workshop was led by Marcelo García (Subsecretaría de Pesca y Acuicultura de Chile) and Jorge Azócar (Instituto de Fomento Pesquero) with the participation of Charif Tala and Sandra Diáz (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente de Chile), Moises Grimber, Javier Meza and Guillermo Reyes (Corporación Nacional Forestal), Peter Hodum, Valentina Colodro and Verónica Lopez (Oikonos), Holly Freifeld (American Bird Conservancy), Erin Hagen (Island Conservation), and Luis Cabezas (BirdLife Albatross Task Force Chile).

The discussions resulted in a schedule of activities which will have the dual purpose of developing the National Plan of Action based on the new scheme of the Chilean institutions and progressing the incorporation of the Pink-footed Shearwater into Annex 1 of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (click here).

A second meeting is due to be held in April this year at the Instituto de Fomento Pesquero.

With thanks to Jorge Azócar, Chile for information and the photograph.

Selected References:

Commission for Environmental Cooperation 2005.  North American Conservation Action Plan: Pink-footed Shearwater.   Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.  vii + 49 pp.

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada 2004.  COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Pink-footed Shearwater.  Ottawa: Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.  vii + 22 pp.

Environment Canada 2008.  Recovery strategy for the Short-tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) and the Pink-footed shearwater (Puffinus creatopus) in Canada.  Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series.  Ottawa: Environment Canada.  vii + 46 pp.

Hinojosa S.A. & Hodum, P.J. 2008. Plan nacional para la conservación de la fardela de vientre blanco Puffinus creatopus Coues, 1864 en Chile.  Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) and Comisión Nacional del Medio Ambiente (CONAMA), Chile.  34 pp.

Juan Pablo Seco Pon, ACAP South American News Correspondent, 12 February 2014

“Shy-type” albatrosses attending trawlers in the south-western Atlantic: updating at-sea records and their interaction with fisheries

Shy Thalassarche cauta and White-capped T. steadi Albatrosses are two taxa for which specific status has recently been postulated; however, owing to their close morphological resemblance they are frequently referred to as “shy-type” albatrosses.  White-capped Albatross, a New Zealand breeding endemic, is well known in South American seas, particularly in the Humboldt Current.  Conversely, Shy Albatross, an Australian breeding endemic, is less pelagic than many other albatrosses, although its range extends to southern Africa.  Both albatross species are listed as Near Threatened, due to their high mortality rates as a result of interactions with longline and trawl fisheries in southern Indian and south-eastern Atlantic Oceans.

Shy-type albatrosses have been previously recorded in the south-western Atlantic region in Brazilian waters, and later on onto the north and north-west of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)*.  However, these records do not come from observations made on board fishing vessels or from land-based interviews with fishers.  Birds, chiefly juvenile and non-breeding adults, have been recently recorded interacting with commercial longline fisheries off the Argentine-Uruguayan Common Fishing Zone and being caught by this fishery as well as off southern Brazil.

More recently, shy-type albatrosses have been recorded attending high-seas trawlers in Patagonian waters off Argentina.  Over the period 2008 to 2011 22 sightings of shy-type albatrosses comprising up to 49 individuals were made from these trawlers, chiefly between 39ºS to 44°S and 55ºW to 60ºW.  The records collated so far indicate (1) that shy-type albatrosses may be more widely distributed in the region that previously thought, and (2) that the Patagonian Shelf may be an important foraging area for these species.

 A shy-type albatross attending a high-seas trawler off Argentina, 07 June 2010

Photograph by Juan Pablo Seco Pon

The support of ACAP Parties such as Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and the United Kingdom in conducting at-sea surveys has enabled a better understanding of the global ranges of threatened or potentially threatened species of albatrosses and petrels and this work needs to be continued as our knowledge of many species’ foraging ranges is still incomplete.

Click here for a related ACAP news item on “Shy-type” albatrosses in South American waters.

Selected Literature:

Baker, G.B., Double, M.C., Gales, R., Tuck, G.N., Abbott, C.L., Ryan, P.G., Petersen, S.L., Robertson, C.J.R. & Alderman, R. 2007.  A global assessment of the impact of fisheries-related mortality on Shy and White-capped Albatrosses: conservation implications.  Biological Conservation 137: 319-333.

Brothers, N., Gales, R., Hedd, A. & Robertson, G. 1998.  Foraging movements of the Shy Albatross Diomedea cauta breeding in Australia; implications for interactions with longline fisheries.  Ibis 140: 446-457.

Gianuca, D., Peppes, F.V. & Neves, T. 2011.  New records of “shy-type” albatrosses Thalassarche steadi/cauta in Brazil.  Revista Brasileria de Ornitologia.

Hedd, A. & Gales, R. 2005.  Breeding and overwintering ecology of Shy Albatrosses in southern Australia: year-round patterns of colony attendance and foraging-trip durations.  Condor.

Jiménez, S., Domingo, A., Marquez, A., Abreu, M., D´Anatro, A. & Pereira, A. 2009.  Interactions of long-line fishing with seabirds in the western Atlantic Ocean, with a focus on White-capped Albatrosses (Thalassarche steadi).  Emu.

Marin, M. 2011.  Distributional notes on the Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta): its presence off South American in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.  Notornis 58: 101-103.

Petry, M.V., Bencke, G.A. & Klein, G.N. 1991.  First record of Shy Albatross Diomedea cauta for the Brazilian coast.  Bulletin of the British Ornithologists´ Club 111: 189.

Phalan, B., Phillips, R.A. & Double, M.C. 2004.  A White-capped Albatross, Thalassarche (cauta) steadi, at South Georgia: first confirmed record in the south-western Atlantic.  Emu.

Seco Pon, J.P. & Tamini, L. 2013.  New records of shy-type albatrosses Thalassarche cauta/T. steadi off the Argentine Continental Shelf.  Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia.

White, R.W., Gillon, K.W., Black, A.D. & Reid, J.B. 2002.  The Distribution of Seabirds and Marine Mammals in the Falkland Islands Waters. Peterborough: Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Juan Pablo Seco Pon, ACAP South American News Correspondent, 11 February 2014

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

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