Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Cyclonic storm causes major landslip damage to breeding sites of ACAP-listed Westland Petrels

Susan Waugh (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand) and colleagues have published in the New Zealand journal Notornis on cyclonic storm damage to colonies of ACAP-listed and Vulnerable Westland Petrel Procellaria westlandica.

The publication concludes;

“Ex-tropical cyclone Ita impacted many Westland petrel colonies in April 2014.  Our preliminary survey assessed damage at colonies containing over 75% of the estimated breeding population of Westland petrels, and high levels of damage were noted at 4 of the 6 colonies assessed.  In some of these areas, a major part (over 50%) of the breeding habitat has been destroyed by landslips.  Further detailed surveys are required to quantitatively assess the impacts on the breeding population and nesting habitat.  Given the threatened status of this species, and its restricted distribution, this work is high priority.  The programme of demographic research on the Westland petrels at Rowe and Study colony continues, and assessment of the impacts of the storm on survival, breeding frequency and breeding output of individuals may be possible over coming years.”

Westland Petrel, photograph by Susan Waugh

Reference:

Waugh, S.M., Poupart, T. & Wilson, K.-J. 2015.  Storm damage to Westland petrel colonies in 2014 from cyclone Ita.  Notornis 62: 165-168.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 16 October 2015

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