Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

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Read about recent developments and findings in procellariiform science and conservation relevant to the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels in ACAP Latest News.

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How well does a Marine Protected Area in the southwest Atlantic match up with top predators, including albatrosses?

           

Wandering Albatrosses at sea, by ABUN artist Maureen Bennetts, from a photograph by Dimas Gianuca 

Jonathan Handley (BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Diversity and Distributions on using predator tracking, including of seven species of ACAP-listed albatrosses and petrels, to test the efficacy of a large Marine Protected Area.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Aim

Marine protected areas can serve to regulate harvesting and conserve biodiversity. Within large multi‐use MPAs, it is often unclear to what degree critical sites of biodiversity are afforded protection against commercial activities. Addressing this issue is a prerequisite if we are to appropriately assess sites against conservation targets. We evaluated whether the management regime of a large MPA conserved sites (Key Biodiversity Areas, KBAs) supporting the global persistence of top marine predators.

Method

We collated population and tracking data (1,418 tracks) from 14 marine predator species (Procellariiformes, Sphenisciformes, Pinnipedia) that breed at South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and identified hotspots for their conservation under the recently developed KBA framework. We then evaluated the spatiotemporal overlap of these sites and the different management regimes of krill, demersal longline and pelagic trawl fisheries operating within a large MPA, which was created with the intention to protect marine predator species.

Results

We identified 12 new global marine KBAs that are important for this community of top predators, both within and beyond the focal MPA. Only three species consistently used marine areas at a time when a potentially higher‐risk fishery was allowed to operate in that area, while other interactions between fisheries and our target species were mostly precluded by MPA management plans.

Main conclusions

We show that current fishery management measures within the MPA contribute to protecting top predators considered in this study and that resource harvesting within the MPA does not pose a major threat—under current climate conditions. Unregulated fisheries beyond the MPA, however, pose a likely threat to identified KBAs. Our approach demonstrates the utility of the KBA guidelines and multispecies tracking data to assess the contributing role of well‐designed MPAs in achieving local and internationally agreed conservation targets.”

With thanks to Richard Phillips.

Reference:

Handley, J.M., Pearmain, E.J., Oppel, S.,  Carneiro, A.P.B., Hazin, C., Phillips, R.A., Ratcliffe, N., Staniland, I.J., Clay, T.A., Hall, J., Scheffer, A., Fedak, M., Boehme, L., Pütz, K., Belchier, M. & Boyd, I.L. & Dias, M.P. 2020. Evaluating the effectiveness of a large multi‐use MPA in protecting Key Biodiversity Areas for marine predators.  Diversity and Distributions DOI: 10.1111/ddi.13041.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 April 2020

Torishima, volcanic home of the Short-tailed Albatross, marks World Albatross Day with a banner

 

The Short-tailed and Black-footed Albatross Research Team at the Hatsunezaki colony

From left: Miwa Konno, Naoki Tomita, Bungo Nishizawa, Yuna Kimoto, Masayoshi Kamioki, Satoshi Konno and Haruka Hayashi, photograph by Miwa Konno

 The World Albatross Day 2020 banner challenge has now reached 18 islands with the display of a banner on Japan’s Torishima in the Izu Islands, home of most of the world’s globally Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatrosses Phoebastria albatrus.

Naoki Tomita of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology reports to ACAP Latest News that the banner was displayed on Torishima by the 2020 Short-tailed and Black-footed Albatross Research Team from the Yamashina Institute near the Hatsunezaki Short-tailed Albatross colony.  It was joined with a flag designed by Fumio Sato who was the Leader of the project that established this new colony in 1995 by attracting birds using decoys and audio devices (click here).  The 2020 research team was on the island over February and March monitoring the island’s albatrosses.

Yasuka and Mitsuki Tomita making the banner, photograph by Naoki Tomita

 The Torishima banner completed, photograph by Yasuko Tomita

The Torishima WAD2020 banner was made by Naoki Tomita’s wife, Yasuko and daughter, Mitsuku.  Both, Naoki reports, much enjoyed the task.

With thanks to Naoki, Yasuko and Mitsuki Tomita.

References:

Eda, M., Izumi, H., Konno, S., Konno, M. & Sato, F. 2016. Assortative mating in two populations of Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus on Torishima. Ibis 158: 868-875.

Sato, F. 2009.  Increase in pairs of the Short-tailed Albatross Diomedea albatrus at an artificial breeding ground.  Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology 40: 139-143.

Sato, F., Momose, K., Tsurumi, M., Hiraoka, YT., Mitamura, A. & Baba, T. 1998.  The first breeding success in the Short-tailed Albatross Colony Restoration Project on Tori-shima, using decoys and vocal lure.  Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology 30: 1-21.

Short tailed Albatross Shary Page Weckwerth

Short-tailed Albatross by ABUN artist, Shary Page Weckwerth‎

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 April 2020

Trace metal levels in Waved Albatrosses

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Waved Albatross, by ABUN artist Georgia Feild

E.S. Jiménez (Departamento de Ingeniería Química, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Marine Ornithology on heavy metals in Galapagos seabirds, including the Critically Endangered Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Contamination by anthropogenic heavy metals can produce significant concentration-dependent damage to ecosystems.  Therefore, we sought to determine levels of heavy metals and their possible origins by analyzing the feathers of four endangered Galapagos species: Galapagos Penguin Spheniscus mendiculus, Flightless Cormorant Phalacrocorax harrisi, Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata, and American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber from the Galapagos Archipelago.  Feathers were collected using non-invasive procedures, and calibration curves were used to measure heavy metals via electrochemical methods for mercury (Hg) and spectroscopic methods for lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd).  Pb and Cd were detected in flamingo feathers with no attributable anthropogenic or near-island origin.  Hg was not found in any of the analyzed species.  It is important to continue monitoring the presence of heavy metals in these endangered species, with a minimum frequency of five years, to facilitate their long-term conservation on the Galapagos Islands.”

Reference:

Jiménez, E.S., Jiménez-Uzcátegui, G., Egas, D.A., Solis, N., Carrera-Játiva, P., Vinueza, R.L., Cotín, J., Nieto, A., García, C., Sevilla, C. & Rueda, D. 2020.  Trace metals (Hg, Pb, and Cd) in feathers of four Galapagos waterbird species.  Marine Ornithology 48: 85-89.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 April 2020

The Friends of Kauaʻi Wildlife Refuges gets behind World Albatross Day 2020

Friends of Kauai Wildlife Refuges 

Friends of Kauaʻi Wildlife Refuges (FKWR; formally the Kilauea Point Natural History Association) is a non-profit group established in 1983 that supports the three refuges that comprise the Kauaʻi National Wildlife Refuge Complex located on the North Shore of the Hawaiian island of Kauai.  The three refuges are Kilauea Point, Hanalei and Hule'ia.  The FKWR has approximately 100 annual members and connects with the nearly 600 supporters who follow emails and with over 2500 Facebook followers.  The NGO’s mission is given as promoting “better understanding, appreciation, and conservation of the natural history and environment of Kauai's National Wildlife Refuges and native Hawaiian ecosystems by fostering educational, interpretive, and scientific activities and projects for the benefit of the public and the wildlife”.  To achieve this the NGO works closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that manages the complex.

The Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge supports a breeding population of some 100 - 120 pairs of colour-banded Laysan Albatrosses Phoebastria immutabilis on Mōlī Hill (view 16-minute video).   The colony is protected by a fence against larger predators, such as dogs, but is not proof to feral cats and rodents.  Breeding above a cliff coastline the albatrosses are protected from projected sea level rise, unlike their conspecifics on the low-lying atolls of the North-Western Hawaiian Islands.

 Thomas Daubert

Thomas Daubert gives a friendly Hawaiian shaka gesture in front of the Kilauea Point lighthouse

Thomas Daubert, FKWR Executive Director, writes to ACAP Latest News: “Friends of Kauaʻi Wildlife Refuges is pleased to support and celebrate World Albatross Day.  Kauaʻi is home to a number of Mōlī (Laysan Albatross) colonies, including several at Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.  Due to their proximity on ground high above sea level, these colonies are critical to the future of this species, which is faced with annual losses of nesting habitats due to climate change.”

The Hawaiian Islands are well served by environmental NGOs which work to conserve seabirds and their island habitats.  Friends of Kauaʻi Wildlife Refuges joins Friends of Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge (FoHI), Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (FOMA), Hawaiian Audubon Society (HAS) and Kure Atoll Conservancy (KAC) in this work and in supporting the inauguration of an annual World Albatross Day on 19 June.  Mahalo to all.

With thanks to Thomas Daubert, Executive Director, Friends of Kauaʻi Wildlife Refuges.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 April 2020

Southern Giant Petrels: latitude effects when they breed

Signy 3 Michael Dunn s 

White-phase Southrern Giant Petrel on Signy Island, photograph by Michael Dunn

John Van Hoff (Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Tasmania, Australia) has published in the open-access journal Marine Ornithology on timing of breeding of Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes giganteus in relation to latitude.

“An organism's reproductive phenology is closely connected with environmental variables and resource availability, and an earlier reproduction is generally predicted as temperatures warm. Sibling giant petrels Macronectes spp. have a circumpolar Southern Hemisphere breeding distribution, which provides an opportunity to test predictions of phenological change in breeding stages over large environmental gradients. Mean comparisons confirmed a ~50 day separation in egg-laying phenologies for the two species, and linear regression showed that variation in phenology was not linked to latitude when the data were separated by species. There was a significant predictive interaction model for temperature and day length at onset of copulation in Southern Giant Petrels M. giganteus, but plots of the raw data suggested that temperature has little, if any, effect on gonad maturation. While day length was the most important factor related to onset of copulation, temperatures at hatching likely constrained the overall phenology of breeding, especially for populations reproducing at extreme high latitudes.”

Reference:

Van Den Hoff, J. 2020.  Environmental constraints on the breeding phenology of giant petrels Macronectes spp., with emphasis on Southern Giant Petrels M. giganteusMarine Ornithology 48: 33-40.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 20 April 2020, updated 07 July 2020