Research on Southern Giant Petrels in Argentina: an ongoing programme

Flavio Quintana of Centro Nacional Patagónico-CONICET and the Wildlife Conservation Society and Sofía Copello of the Departamento de Biología, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata-CONICET have together been conducting research on the breeding biology and foraging ecology of Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus in Argentina for a number of years.

The Southern Giant Petrel is Argentina's only breeding ACAP-listed species, with an estimated population of 2600-2800 pairs in four colonies (approximately 6% of the global population).

Their studies have concentrated on the birds of Isla Arce and Isla Gran Robredo within the Parque Interjurisdiccional Marino Costero Patagonia Austral in northern Patagonia, where approximately 90% (2300 pairs) of Argentina's giant petrels breed.  Studies commenced in 1999 and are continuing under the leadership of Flavio Quintana (click here).

Information is now available on morphology, population status and trends, diet, health, at-sea distribution and dispersal and conservation, as well as much basic breeding data, as witnessed by the project's suite of publications to date (see below).

Current research is focusing on the year-round distribution of adult and juvenile Southern Giant Petrels on the Patagonian Shelf utilizing satellite telemetry in relation to oceanography and in assessing interactions with fisheries.

Chronological list of publications

Quintana, F. & Dell' Arciprete, P. 2002.  The foraging grounds of Southern Giant Petrels (Macronectes giganteus) on the Patagonian shelf.  Polar Biology 25: 159-161.

Copello, S. & Quintana, F. 2003.  Marine debris ingestion by Southern Giant Petrels and its potential relationships with fisheries in the southern Atlantic Ocean.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 46: 1513-1515.

Uhart, M.M., Quintana, F., Karesh, W.B. & Braselton, W.E. 2003.  Hematology, plasma biochemistry, and serosurvey for selected infectious agents in Southern Giant Petrels from Patagonia, Argentina.  Journal of Wildlife Diseases 39: 359-365.

Phillips, R., Arata, J., Cuthbert, R., Huin, N., Quintana, F., & Robertson, G. 2004.  Regional summaries. South-west Atlantic and southern South America.  Breeding.  In: Birdlife International.  Tracking Ocean Wanderers: the Global Distribution of Albatrosses and Petrels.  Results from the Global Procellariiform Tracking Workshop, 1 -5 September, 2003, Gordon's Bay, South Africa.  BirdLife International: Cambridge.  pp. 36-38.

Quintana, F., Schiavini, A. & Copello, S. 2005.  Estado poblacional, ecología y conservación del Petrel Gigante del Sur en Argentina.  El Hornero 20: 25-34.

Copello, S., Quintana, F. & Somoza, G. 2006.  Sex determination and sexual size dimorphism in Southern Giant Petrels (Macronectes giganteus) from Patagonia, Argentina.  Emu 106: 141-146.

Quintana, F., Punta, G., Copello, S. & Yorio, P. 2006.  Population status and trends of southern giant petrels (Macronectes giganteus) breeding in Chubut, Argentina.  Polar Biology 30: 53-59.

Copello, S. 2007.  Ecology and conservation of the Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus) in Patagonia, Argentina.  PhD thesis, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Centro Regional Universitario Bariloche.  170 pp.

Quintana, F. 2007.  Ecología y conservación de albatros y petreles. In: Aportes para la conservación de aves marinas (Editado por la Secretaría de Ambiente y Desarrollop Sustentable de la Nación).  36 pp.

Copello, S., Quintana, F. & Perez, F. 2008.  The diet of the Southern Giant Petrel in Patagonia: fishery-related items and natural prey.  Endangered Species Research 6: 15-23.

Arata, J., Croxall, J., Huin, N., Nicholls, D., Phillips, R., Quintana, F., Robertson, C.J. R., Robertson, G., Trathan, P. & Falabella, V. 2009.  Parte 2.  Albatros.  In: Falabella, V., Campagna, C. & Croxall, J. (Eds).  Atlas del Mar Patagónico: Especies y Espacios.  Proyecto Modelo del Mar, Argentina, Wildlife Conservation Society, Argentina, CONICET, Argentina. & BirdLife International.  pp. 45 -97.

Copello, S., Rabuffetti, F. & Quintana, F. 2009.  Post-fledging dispersal of Southern Giant Petrels from north Patagonian colonies.  Ardeola 56: 103-112.

Copello, S. & Quintana, F. 2009.  Spatio-temporal relationship between Southern Giant Petrels and fisheries at the Patagonian Shelf.  Polar Biology 32: 1211-1220.

Copello, S. & Quintana, F. 2009.  Breeding biology of the Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus in Patagonia, Argentina.  Ornitología Neotropical 20: 369-380.

Quintana, F., Croxall, J., González-Solís, J., Phillips, R., Trathan, P & Falabella, V. 2009.  Parte 3.  Petreles.  In: Falabella, V., Campagna, C. & Croxall, J. (Eds).  Atlas del Mar Patagónico: Especies y Espacios.  Proyecto Modelo del Mar, Argentina, Wildlife Conservation Society, Argentina, CONICET, Argentina & BirdLife International.  pp. 43 - 75.

Favero, M., Blanco, G., García, G., Copello, S., Seco Pon, J.P., Frere, E., Quintana, F., Yorio, P., Rabuffetti, F., Cañete, G. & Gandini, P. 2010.  Seabird mortality associated with ice trawlers in the Patagonian Shelf: effect of discards on the occurrence of interactions with fishing gear.  Animal Conservation  doi:10.1111/j.1469-1795.2010.00405.x.

Quintana, F., Dell' Arciprete, P. & Copello, S. 2010.  Foraging behaviour and habitat use by the Southern Giant Petrel on the Patagonian Shelf.  Marine Biology 157: 515-525.

Techow, N.M.S.M., O´Ryan, C.O., Phillips, R.A., Gales, R., Marin, M., Patterson-Fraser, D., Quintana, F., Ritz, M.S., Thompson, D.R., Wanless, R.M., Weimerskirch, H. & Ryan, P.G. 2010.  Speciation and phylogeography of giant petrels MacronectesMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 54: 472-487.

The following papers are in preparation

Copello, S., Dogliotti, A.I., Gagliardini, D.A. & Quintana, F.  Oceanographic and biological landscapes used by the Southern Giant Petrel during the breeding season at the Patagonian Shelf.

Copello, S., Favero, M., Quintana, F., Wilcox, C. & Tuck, G.  A forecasting approach for analyzing seabird-fishery interactions: an application to the Southern Giant Petrel at the Patagonian Shelf.

For information on the natural history and conservation of the study region in Patagonia click here.

Click here to access the ACAP Species Assessment for the Southern Giant Petrel.

With thanks to Sofía Copello and Flavio Quintana for information and photographs.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 5 November 2010

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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