Conserving threatened seabirds on islands is a “a rare opportunity for effective conservation at scale”

Dena Spatz (Coastal Conservation Action Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA) and colleagues, writing “early view” in the journal Conservation Biology, have identified islands supporting threatened seabirds amenable to conservation efforts. Details are given in appendices as supplementary information.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Seabirds are the most threatened group of marine animals; 29% of species are at some risk of extinction.  Significant threats to seabirds occur on islands where they breed, but in many cases, effective island conservation can mitigate these threats.  To guide island-based seabird conservation actions, we identified all islands with extant or extirpated populations of the 98 globally threatened seabird species, as recognized on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, and quantified the presence of threatening invasive species, protected areas, and human populations.  We matched these results with island attributes to highlight feasible island conservation opportunities.  We identified 1362 threatened breeding seabird populations on 968 islands.  On 803 (83%) of these islands, we identified threatening invasive species (20%), incomplete protected area coverage (23%), or both (40%).  Most islands with threatened seabirds are amenable to island-wide conservation action because they are small (57% were <1 km2), uninhabited (74%), and occur in high- or middle-income countries (96%).  Collectively these attributes make islands with threatened seabirds a rare opportunity for effective conservation at scale.”

The Tristan Albatross on Gough Island is threatened by introduced House Mice

Photograph by Andrea Angel and Ross Wanless

With thanks to Barry Baker for information.


Spatz, D.R., Newton, K.M., Heinz, R., Tershy, B., Holmes, N.D., Butchart, S.H.M.& Croll, D.A. 2014.  The biogeography of globally threatened seabirds and island conservation opportunities.  Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12279.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 April 2014

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.

About ACAP

ACAP Secretariat

119 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000

Tel: +61 3 6165 6674