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.

Contact the ACAP Information Officer if you wish to have your news featured.

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SCAR and COMNAP Antarctic Research Fellowships and CCAMLR Scientific Scholarships for 2014 on offer

The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programmes (COMNAP) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) are working together to attract talented early-career researchers, scientists, engineers and other professionals to strengthen international capacity and cooperation in fields such as climate, biodiversity, conservation, humanities and astrophysics research.

The SCAR and COMNAP Fellowships are worth up to US$15 000 each and up to five fellowships in total are on offer for 2014.  The fellowships enable early-career researchers to join a project team from another country, opening up new opportunities and often creating research partnerships that last many years and over many Antarctic research seasons.  The deadline for SCAR and COMNAP applications is 4 June 2014.

The SCAR and COMNAP schemes are launched in conjunction with the CCAMLR Scientific Scholarship Scheme.  The CCAMLR Scholarship provides funding of up to AU$ 30 000 to assist early-career scientists to participate in the work of the CCAMLR Scientific Committee and its working groups over a period of two years. The scheme was established in 2010 and a maximum of three awards will be made in 2014.  The objective of the scheme is to build capacity within the CCAMLR scientific community to help generate and sustain the scientific expertise needed to support the work of CCAMLR in the long term.  The deadline for CCAMLR applications is 1 October 2014.

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross chick, photograph by Aleks Terauds

For more information on SCAR and COMNAP Fellowships, visit the SCAR website or the COMNAP website.  For information on CCAMLR Scholarships, visit the CCAMLR website.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 01 March 2014

No introduced Reindeer remain on a South Atlantic seabird island

The introduced Reindeer Rangifer tarandus of South Georgia (Isla Georgias del Sur)* are no more.  Following the removal of the Busen herd in January and February last year (click here) this year attention switched to the animals on the Barff Peninsula.

The second phase got underway on 3 January when six hunters from the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate were deployed to shoot the remaining animals on the peninsula, following the shooting of 1555 Reindeer there in 2013 (click here).

A Reindeer on South Georgia (Isla Georgias del Sur)*, photograph by Martin Collins

“Despite challenging terrain and some of the worst summer weather in recent years, the marksmen completed systematic searches of all areas with reindeer and shot 3,140 animals in a six-week period.  In the coming months, the area will be thoroughly checked to ensure that it has been cleared.”

The FPV Pharos SG acted as a support vessel, assisting in the deployment of the shooters and their gear.  The shooters were based in tented field camps as well as field huts.  Meat was recovered from some of the animals shot for local consumption.  Observers were posted in St Andrews Bay during shooting in the area to observe the effect of shooting on the King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus colony and to ensure there was no disturbance to the birds.

With the over 1900 animals eliminated from the Busen area of the island last year over 6600 Reindeer have now been removed from the island (click here).

“Alongside the work to remove reindeer, several scientific research projects were undertaken, including the collection of samples for genetic analysis and filming for behavioural research.  Science teams have also continued to monitor vegetation and bird communities [including of ACAP-listed burrowing White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis] to track the recovery of the island’s systems after the eradication.  Although it will take a number of years for the full benefits of the eradication to be realised, there are early signs of vegetation recovery, especially in the Busen area, which has now been free from reindeer for almost a year.”

Habitat to improve for White-chinned Petrels without Reindeer?

Photograph by Ben Phalan

Click here for another news item on the successful Reindeer eradication.

With thanks to Jennifer Lee for information.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 28 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.

Proposed Aotea Conservation Park should help improve conservation status of New Zealand’s endemic Black Petrel

New Zealand’s Department of Conservation is considering declaring a conservation park on parts of Great Barrier Island (Aotea) lying 80 km north-east of Auckland and has called for public comment with a deadline of month end (click here).

The ACAP-listed and Vulnerable Black or Parkinson’s Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni breeding locality on Great Barrier Island, known as the Hirakimata/Kaitoke Swamp Ecological Area, will fall within the proposed Aotea Conservation Park.

Black Petrel at its breeding site, photograph by David Boyle

 Black Petrel breeding habitat on Great Barrier Island, photograph by Biz Bell

Elizabeth (Biz) Bell, Black Petrel researcher with Wildlife Management International writes to ACAP:

“I personally think this is a good development as the move in New Zealand at the moment is to develop partnerships between different interest groups and stakeholders to protect and enhance important areas.  This proposal will be another layer of protection – and a management group to make decisions on use and changes.  Added protection may also mean there are more options for obtaining personnel to undertake predator control and wider funding options.”

Read the proposal's discussion document here.

Click here for an NGO view on the proposed new park with a call for a national park instead.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 27 February 2014

Black-browed Albatrosses forage inshore in Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Javier Arata (Instituto Antártico Chileno, Punta Arenas, Chile) and colleagues write in the journal Polar Biology on inshore foraging by Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris that breed within Admiralty Sound, Tierra del Fuego.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Black-browed albatrosses are the most abundant albatross species of the southern hemisphere, breeding on sub-Antarctic and Antarctic oceanic islands around the globe.  Their foraging habitat during the breeding season is reasonably well known along its distributional range, indicating a preferred use of waters <500 m deep.  The discovery of a colony inserted within the Admiralty Sound, Tierra del Fuego, poses an interesting challenge to the known precepts on foraging behavior for the species.  In this study, we present the first record on the foraging distribution of the only known inner-channel colony of albatrosses in the world, using high-resolution GPS loggers.  Black-browed albatrosses breeding at the Albatross Islet used exclusively inner-channel waters, at least during the chick-guard stage.  Our results indicate a significant smaller foraging range during chick-guard compared with conspecifics from Diego Ramirez and Falklands/Malvinas Islands.  Implications for the conservation of this colony are discussed.”

 

Black-browed Albatross, photograph by Genevieve Jones

Reference:

Arata, J., Vila, A.J., Matus, R., Droguett, D., Silva-Quintas, C., Falabella, V., Robertson, G. & Haro, D. 2014.  Use and exploitation of channel waters by the black-browed albatross.  Polar Biology DOI 10.1007/s00300-014-1458-1.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 February 2014

You go that way, I’ll go this way. How do three albatross species at South Africa’s Marion Island partition resources at sea?

Maëlle Connan (Zoology Department, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa) and colleagues have published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series on diets of three albatross species at Marion Island.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“A combination of dietary techniques that integrate data on food and feeding habits over days, weeks and months was used to investigate resource partitioning among 3 sympatric albatrosses, namely the grey-headed Thalassarche chrysostoma (GHA), light-mantled sooty Phoebetria palpebrata (LMSA) and sooty Phoebetria fusca (SA) albatrosses.  These medium-size albatrosses typically breed every 2 yr, and Marion Island (southern Indian Ocean) is the only breeding site where the 3 species are accessible.  Stomach content analysis provided dietary information about the most recent meal, analysis of fatty acids in stomach oils about the last foraging trip, and carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values of blood and feathers about the chick-rearing (breeding) and moulting periods, respectively.  The combination of techniques highlighted a complex pattern regarding the spatial and trophic segregation between the 3 species.  During both seasons, SA were spatially segregated from LMSA and GHA, foraging farther north (in subantarctic and subtropical areas) than the 2 other species (subantarctic and Antarctic waters).  When feeding for themselves during the breeding season (blood isotopic signatures), adults showed a clear spatial segregation.  When bringing back food for their chicks (stomach contents), trophic segregation became obvious, with the 2 Phoebetria species specializing mostly on squids.  The results illustrate how sympatrically breeding birds can show niche partitioning through both spatial segregation and prey specialization.”

Sooty Albatross chick on Marion Island, photograph by Marienne de Villiers

With thanks to Maëlle Connan for information.

Reference:

Connan, M., McQuaid, C.D., Bonnevie, B.T., Smale, M.J. & Cherel, Y. 2014.  Combined stomach content, lipid and stable isotope analyses reveal spatial and trophic partitioning among three sympatric albatrosses from the Southern Ocean.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 497: 259-272.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 February 2014

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