New research shows seabird populations benefit from restoration and relocation efforts

Guadaupe translocation PRC 1A Black-footed Albatross chick sits near a decoy bird on Mexico's Guadalupe Island; photo courtesy of Pacific Rim Conservation. According to the research, active restoration programmes targeting albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters which involve the use of social attraction or a combination of social attraction and translocation are seeing positive outcomes from the interventions.

Dena Spatz (Pacific Rim Conservation, Honolulu, Hawaii) and colleagues have published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS) on the efficacy of seabird restoration projects around the world.

The paper’s abstract follows, 

“The global loss of biodiversity has inspired actions to restore nature across the planet. Translocation and social attraction actions deliberately move or lure a target species to a restoration site to reintroduce or augment populations and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem resilience. Given limited conservation funding and rapidly accelerating extinction trajectories, tracking progress of these interventions can inform best practices and advance management outcomes. Seabirds are globally threatened and commonly targeted for translocation and social attraction (“active seabird restoration”), yet no framework exists for tracking these efforts nor informing best practices. This study addresses this gap for conservation decision makers responsible for seabirds and coastal management. We systematically reviewed active seabird restoration projects worldwide and collated results into a publicly accessible Seabird Restoration Database. We describe global restoration trends, apply a systematic process to measure success rates and response times since implementation, and examine global factors influencing outcomes. The database contains 851 active restoration events in 551 locations targeting 138 seabird species; 16% of events targeted globally threatened taxa. Visitation occurred in 80% of events and breeding occurred in 76%, on average 2 y after implementation began (SD = 3.2 y). Outcomes varied by taxonomy, with the highest and quickest breeding response rates for Charadriiformes (terns, gulls, and auks), primarily with social attraction. Given delayed and variable response times to active restoration, 5 y is appropriate before evaluating outcomes. The database and results serve as a model for tracking and evaluating restoration outcomes, and is applicable to measuring conservation interventions for additional threatened taxa.”


Spatz, D. R., Young, L. C., Holmes, N. D., Jones, H. P., VanderWerf, E. A., Lyons, D. E., Kress, S., Miskelly, C. M., & Taylor, G. A. (2023). Tracking the global application of conservation translocation and social attraction to reverse seabird declines. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences120(16).

8 May 2023

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