A field season with Black-Browed Albatrosses on New Island

As every year for the last 12 years, a study plot of 280 nests of Black-Browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris has been monitored on New Island, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)*.  This season the “Albatross Dream Team” consisted of Letizia Campioni, Deborah Pardo and Paulo Catry.

A study colony on the south-western cliffs of New Island

Undertaking attendance checks, photograph by Gunnar Scholtz

Individual presence, breeding success and laying dates were recorded to construct a solid demographic data set.  At the same time, the main goals for this season were to deploy GPS and GLS trackers on breeding birds so as to record movements and activity during both incubation and chick-rearing.  This tracking information will be used in conjunction with isotopic analyses of blood and feathers.

A pair of marked albatrosses during a shift changeover

In addition, a large part of the project was to improve knowledge of the at-sea movements of pre-breeding immature birds.  Seventy-five GPS trackers were deployed on three- to seven year-old birds previously banded as chicks that had returned as non-breeding “loafers” within the colony.  These immatures were marked with TESA tape on their metal bands to aid in their identification for recapture.  Again blood samples were taken for isotopic analyses as well as for genetic sexing.  GLS loggers were then deployed for studying their wintering areas and we hope to recover them in the following years.

An immature Black-browed Albatross flies overhead wearing a leg-mounted GLS tracker

Photographs by Deborah Pardo unless noted.

Selected Literature:

Catry, P., Forcada, J. & Almeida, A. 2011.  Demographic parameters of Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris from the Falkland Islands.  Polar Biology 34: 1221-1229.

Strange, I.J. 2007.  New Island, Falkland Islands: a South Atlantic Wildlife Sanctuary for Conservation Management.  Stanley: Design in Nature.  152 pp.

Deborah Pardo, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK and ACAP European News Correspondent, 09 March 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.

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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