Southern Giant Petrels in East Antarctica: stable populations?

The Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus is the only ACAP-listed species that breeds on the Antarctic Continent.  Most occur in the Antarctic Peninsula region but four small colonies are to be found in East Antarctica, where it was thought the numbers had decreased.

However, four Australian researchers have looked at the historical data for these colonies critically, and for two of the three they studied found no good evidence supporting a population change.  The giant petrel populations of all three colonies (Frazier Islands, Giganteus Island and Hawker Island) are now considered to be stable.  In their publication in the open-access journal Endangered Species Research, they emphasize the need to collect long-term data in a consistent manner, and not to place excessive reliance on historical counts with inadequate descriptions of the methodologies used. 


Wienecke, B., Leaper, R, Hay, I. & van den Hoff, J. 2009.  Retrofitting historical data in population studies: Southern Giant Petrels in the Australian Antarctic Territory.  Endangered Species Research 8: 157-164.

For a global review of the breeding distribution and population status of the Southern Giant Petrel go to

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

 John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 1 January 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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