Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Sexual dimorphism and foraging trips of the Laysan Albatross on Guadalupe Island

Julio César Hernández Montoya (Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, La Paz, Mexico) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Animals on aspects of the biology of Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis breeding on Mexico’s Guadalupe Island.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Sexual dimorphism in the Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) on Guadalupe Island was evaluated during the breeding seasons of 2015–2018 by measuring and comparing 10 morphological attributes: cranial length, bill length, nostril length, cranial width, bill height, bill width, tarsus length, closed wing length, opened wing length, and wingspan length in reproductive adults (n = 135). Males were larger than females across all traits (Student’s t-test, p < 0.05, p < 0.05). We created a logistic model using stepwise regression to predict sex based on morphological variables. This model indicated four significant morphological predictor variables (z < 0.05) and was able to successfully predict the sex of P. immutabilis individuals in more than 90% of the cases. Based on these predictor variables, a web app was developed to determine the sex of the Laysan albatross in the field, providing a non-invasive method for rapid data collection that reduces costs and handling times while improving conservation efforts. We tracked Laysan albatross (n = 36) during breeding seasons and found no significant differences between females and males for either trip length (GLMM, F = 0.017, DF = 1, 1, p = 0.917 > 0.05) or maximum trip distance (GLMM, F = 0.374, DF = 1, 1, p = 0.651 > 0.05). Our results suggest that both sexes show a strong preference to travel to highly productive coastal waters northeast of the breeding colony that are influenced by the California Current. The present research will serve to establish a baseline to protect this species on Guadalupe Island and highlights the importance of understanding sexual dimorphism in at-risk seabird species.”

 Guadalupe Island, with a Laysan Albatross family, photographs by Ross Wanless

Reference:

Hernández Montoy, J.C., Juárez-Rodríguez, M., Méndez-Sánchez, F., Aguirre-Muñoz, A., Rojas-Mayoral, E., Íñigo-Elias, E., Galina-Tessaro, P., Arnaud, G. & Ortega-Rubio, A. 2019. Sexual dimorphism and foraging trips of the Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) on Guadalupe Island.  Animals 9(6), 364 https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060364.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 July 2019

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