New genetics study supports 24 taxa of albatrosses

A phylogenetic study of the World's albatrosses has been published in the New Zealand journal Notornis.  The study, conducted by Geoffrey Chambers of the Victoria University of Wellington and three colleagues, looked at full length miotochondrial cytochrome b data for 24 taxa of albatrosses.

The findings of their study support the recognition of 22 species of albatrosses, with two subspecies for Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis and Buller's Albatross Thalassarche bulleri.  Essentially, this follows the treatment followed by ACAP on the advice of its Advisory Committee's Taxonomic Working Group (TWG), including of the "shy-type" mollymawk albatrosses as being made up of four species.

Their paper considers two "remaining enigmatic taxa require examination" to ascertain whether they should be recognized, as either subspecies or even as full species.  These are the Black-browed Albatrosses T. melanophris of The Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and an isolated Japanese population of Black-footed Albatrosses Phoebastria nigripes.  Tasks for the TWG?


Chambers, G.C., Moeke, C, Steel, R. & Trueman, J.W.H. 2009.  Phylogenetic analysis of the 24 named albatross taxa based on full mitochondrial cytochrome b DNA sequences.  Notornis 56: 82-94.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 January 2010

The Agreement on the
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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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