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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Plastic ingestion affects blood chemistry and size of Flesh-footed Shearwaters

Jennifer Lavers (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Battery Point, Australia) and colleagues have published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on the sublethal effects of ingested plastic in the ACAP-candidate species and globally Near Threatened Flesh-footed Shearwater Ardenna carneipes.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Pollution of the environment with plastic debris is a significant and rapidly expanding threat to biodiversity due to its abundance, durability, and persistence. Current knowledge of the negative effects of debris on wildlife is largely based on consequences that are readily observed, such as entanglement or starvation. Many interactions with debris, however, result in less visible and poorly documented sublethal effects, and as a consequence, the true impact of plastic is underestimated. We investigated the sublethal effects of ingested plastic in Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) using blood chemistry parameters as a measure of bird health. The presence of plastic had a significant negative effect on bird morphometrics and blood calcium levels and a positive relationship with the concentration of uric acid, cholesterol, and amylase. That we found blood chemistry parameters being related to plastic pollution is one of the few examples to date of the sublethal effects of marine debris and highlights that superficially healthy individuals may still experience the negative consequences of ingesting plastic debris. Moving beyond crude measures, such as reduced body mass, to physiological parameters will provide much needed insight into the nuanced and less visible effects of plastic.”

 

Flesh-footed Shearwaters on Lord Howe Island, photograph by Ian Hutton

Read a press release and a popular article on the pubication.

 

Reference:

Lavers, J.L., Hutton, I. & Bond, A.L. 2019.  Clinical pathology of plastic ingestion in marine birds and relationships with blood chemistry.  Environmental Science & Technology  doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b02098.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 07 August 2019

"Tiny" albatross from the past thought to have eaten fish

Gerald May (Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) and Alan Tennyson describe open access a small fossil albatross with what is thought to be a narrow fish-eating bill in the journal Ibis.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“We describe a nearly complete, three‐dimensionally preserved skull of a new albatross species from the late Pliocene (3.0–3.4 million years ago) Tangahoe Formation of New Zealand. Aldiomedes angustirostris, n. gen. et sp. has only about 90% of the length of the skull of the smallest extant albatross and is the geologically youngest record of a small‐sized albatross known to date. The new species is characterized by a mediolaterally compressed beak, which is not found in any living albatross. The small size and some cranial features of A. angustirostris indicate that, in spite of its comparatively young geological age, the new species was not part of crown group Diomedeidae. We hypothesize that A. angustirostris was more piscivorous than extant albatrosses, which predominantly feed on squid. The reasons for the extinction of smaller‐sized albatrosses are elusive but may be related to changes in seabird fauna during the Pliocene epoch, which witnessed the radiation of various non‐procellariiform seabird groups.”

The fossil skull of the new species (above) in comparison to that of the extant Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes (below)

Photograph by Jean-Claude Stahl

Read a popular account on the publication; also here.

Reference:

Mayr, G. & Tennyson, A.J.D. 2019.  A small, narrow-beaked albatross from the Pliocene of New Zealand demonstrates a higher past diversity in the feeding ecology of the Diomedeidae. Ibis.  DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12757.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 August 2019

Trace metals in Scopoli's Shearwaters from Greece

Marios-Dimitrios Voulgaris (Centre for Marine and Environmental Research, University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal) and colleagues have published in the journal Science of the Total Environment on trace metal levels in the blood of Scopoli's Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“In this study, the concentrations of cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), chromium(Cr), copper (Cu), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn) were investigated in the blood of Scopoli's shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea).  Blood samples (N=238) were collected from both juvenile and adult individuals during seven breeding seasons between 2007 and 2014, excluding 2013.  Sampling was performed in the pristine environment of the Strofades island complex, Greece, where the largest colony of Scopoli's shearwaters is located in the Eastern Mediterranean basin.  The median concentrations of the toxic metals, Cd and Pb, were 0.010 and 0.24 μg/g (dry weight; dw), respectively, which were in good agreement with previous studies.  The median concentrations of Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Zn were 0.18, 1.11, 3.41, 0.29, 0.61, and 22.9 μg/g dw, respectively.  Inter-annual differences were observed among the concentrations of all assessed metals, except for Ni and Cd, which demonstrated similarities among female individuals.  Age-group related differences were observed in both genders for Cd, Cu and Cr, but only among males for Zn.  To the best of our knowledge, this is the longest multi-year biomonitoring study of select trace metals that has been conducted thus far on blood samples from Scopoli's shearwater species.”

Scopoli's Shearwater and chick, Strofades Islands, Greece; photograph from Georgios Karris

With thanks to Georgios Karris.

Reference:

Voulgaris, M.-D., Karris, K., Xirouchakis, S, Zaragoza Pedro, P., Asimakopoulos, A.G., Grivas, K. & Bebinno, M.J. 2019.  Trace metal blood concentrations in Scopoli's shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea) during 2007–2014: A systematic analysis of the largest species colony in Greece.  Science of the Total Environment 691: 187-194.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 August 2019

Flesh-footed Shearwaters also ingest plastic particles below one millimetre in size

Jennifer Lavers (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Battery Point, Tasmania, Australia) and colleagues have published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin on detecting ultrafine plastics ingested by globally Near Threatened Flesh-footed Shearwaters Ardenna carneipes.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Plastic debris is a major global threat to marine ecosystems and species.  However, our knowledge of this issue may be incomplete due to a lack of a standardized method for quantifying ingested ultrafine particles (1 μm – 1 mm) in wildlife. This study provides the first quantification of ultrafine plastic in seabirds using chemical and biological digestion treatments to extract plastic items from seabird gizzards. The alkaline agent, potassium hydroxide, outperformed the enzyme corolase, based on cost and efficiency (e.g., digestion time). Ultrafine plastics were observed in 7.0% of Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) gizzards collected from Lord Howe Island, Australia and accounted for 3.6% of all plastic items recovered (13 out of 359 items). Existing methods for extracting ingested plastic from seabirds do not account for ultrafine particles, therefore our results indicate current seabird plastic loads, and the associated physical and biological impacts, are underestimated.”

Flesh-footed Shearwater, photograph by Kirk Zufelt

Read a popular account of the publication here.

Reference:

Lavers, J.L., Stivaktakis, G., Hutton, I. & Bond, A.L. 2019.  Detection of ultrafine plastics ingested by seabirds using tissue digestion.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 142: 470-474.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 August 2019

¿Habla español? ACAP’s Executive Secretary makes a liaison visit to Peru, Ecuador and Chile

ACAP Executive Secretary Christine Bogle is fluent in the Agreement’s three official languages of English, French and Spanish.  Given that six of the 13 ACAP Parties are Spanish-speaking this facility greatly aids communication between the ACAP’s Secretariat in Australia and ACAP National Contact Points and Advisory Committee Members (as well as others) in South America, where five of the six Parties have Spanish as a home language (the sixth, Brazil, speaks Portuguese).

Following the Eleventh Meeting of the ACAP Advisory Committee (AC11), hosted by Brazil this May, Christine Bogle travelled on to make liaison visits to Peru, Ecuador and Chile, before returning to the Secretariat’s offices in Hobart.  Extracts adapted from her report follow.

I visited Lima (Peru), Guayaquil (Ecuador) and Valparaíso (Chile); in each country my programme was organised by the representative to ACAP’s Advisory Committee and involved meetings with a range of government agencies involved in work related to ACAP objectives.  In Ecuador and Chile NGO representatives were also present at meetings.  The visits enabled me to outline ACAP’s work, priorities and systems as well as to discuss each country’s priorities for their ACAP-related commitments.  I also learned about the roles and responsibilities of the different agencies, and their priorities for their ongoing relationship with ACAP, as well as cooperation amongst the different agencies and with their neighbouring countries.  A positive outcome was that the inter-agency discussions foreshadowed ongoing enhanced cooperation between the different institutions in each country.

In each country a presentation was made in Spanish about ACAP’s history, structure and priorities, as well as a brief outline of the key outcomes from the recent AC11 and working group meetings.  Presentations were then made by the other participants describing their work and priorities, followed by discussions as briefly summarized below.

Peru

Key outcomes from discussions organised by Peru’s Advisory Committee Member Elisa Goya were an agreement to set up an inter-departmental task force to implement the binational (Peru/Ecuador) Plan of Action for the Critically Endangered Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata (subsequently its first meeting has taken place) and a decision to produce a National Plan of Action – Seabirds for the country.

Lunch at the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Left from front: José Romero (General Director, Control and Supervision, Ministry of Production, PRODUCE); Ambassador Roberto Seminario (Head, General Bureau of Sovereignty, Borders and Antarctic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs); Elisa Goya (Peruvian Marine Research Institute, IMARPE); Vanessa Bachmann (IMARPE); Sara Dueñas (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Right from front:  Andrés Garrido (Director, Bureau of Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs); Christine Bogle (ACAP Executive Secretary); Percy Gallegos (Ministry of Production); Doris Rodríguez (National Forest and Wildlife Service, SERFOR); Frida Rodríguez (Environmental Ministry)

Visit to the Ministry:  Christine Bogle, ACAP Executive Secretary shakes hands with Ambassador Jose Antonio Pomareda, Peruvian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Vice Minister reaffirmed the commitment of Peru to continue working on the protection of coastal marine areas within the framework of ACAP

Ecuador

Meetings in Ecuador, arranged by ACAP Advisory Committee Member Caroline Icaza, revealed a group of enthusiastic and hard- working officials who had a number of projects in mind, including some falling within the Waved Albatross Plan of Action.  It was suggested that key priorities could be set with ACAP’s aid.  Ecuador’s offer to host AC12 next year was also discussed.

ACAP's Executive Secretary meets with officials in Ecuador

Standing from left:  Julia Cordero, Dirección Provincial de Ambiente de Manabí; Christian Sevilla, Especialista en Conservacion y Restauracion de Ecosistemas Insulares, Parque Nacional Galapagos; Vicente Zaval, Subsecretario de Gestión Marina y Costera; Christine Bogle, ACAP Executive Secretary; Verónica Córdova, Directora de Normativas y Proyectos Marinos y Costeros; Patricia Rosero, Especialista en Gestión Marina y Costera; Rubén Alemán, Veterinario del Parque Nacional Machalilla

Kneeling from left:  Yolanda Bazurto, Especialista en áreas protegidas del Área Nacional de Recreación Playas de Villamil; Xavier Santillán, Especialista en Normativas y Proyectos de la Subsecretaría de Gestión Marina y Costera

Chile

Chile’s host was ACAP Advisory Committee Member, Marcelo Garcia.  Chile reported on its cooperation with New Zealand over the globally Endangered Antipodean Albatross Diomedea antipodensis and its recent decision to place cameras on both its industrial and artisanal fishing vessels.

In front of a Wandering Albatross banner outside the Subsecretaría de Pesca (SUBPESCA) Offices in Valparaíso, Chile

Back row from left:  Alan Gomez, Profesional pesquerías Demersales, Subsecretaria de Pesca; Luis Adasme, Profesional del Instituto de Fomento Pesquero, IFOP); Luis Cocas M., Profesional Descarte y Programa de Cámaras a bordo de la Subsecretaria de Pesca; Jorge Guerra M., Profesional asuntos mamíferos marinos de la Subsecretaria de Pesca; Verónica López, Oikonos

Front row from left:  Javier Rivera, Jefe, Departamento de Pesquerías Subsecretaria de Pesca y Acuicultura; Marcelo Garcia Alvarado, Chile's ACAP Advisory Committee Member, Subsecretaría de Pesca; Nancy Cespedes, Jefa Departamento de Recursos Naturales Ministerio de relaciones Exteriores; Christine Bogle, ACAP Executive Secretary; Sandra Diaz, Planes de Recuperación conservación y gestión de especies amenazadas, Ministerio del Medio Ambiente; Mauricio Ulloa, Encargado de Rescate de Fauna marina del Servicio Nacional de Pesca y Acuicultura; Katherine Bernal, Asuntos internacionales, Subsecretaria de Pesca y Acuicultura; Karin Mundnich, ACAP National Contact for Chile, Unidad de Asuntos Internacionales, Subsecretaria de Pesca

With thanks to Marcelo Garcia Alvarado and Caroline Icaza Galarza.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 August 2019, updated 03 & 05 August 2019

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