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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Heading south: a Cory’s Shearwater gets tracked after fledging for the first time

Raül Ramos (Departament de Biologia Evolutiva, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain) and colleagues have published in the journal Bird Study on the at-sea movements of a juvenile Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris borealis from the Canary Islands.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Using geolocator-immersion loggers, we tracked for the first time the migration of one Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris borealis fledgling, from its breeding colony in the Canary Islands, and along its first year of life. The juvenile bird initially followed the same migratory path as the adults but visited different areas of the Central and the South Atlantic Ocean.”

 

Cory's Shearwater at sea, photograph by John Graham

Reference:

Raül Ramos, R., Morera-Pujol, V., Cruz-Flores, M., López-Souto, S., Brothers, M. & González-Solís, J. 2019.  A geolocator-tagged fledgling provides first evidence on juvenile movements of Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris borealisBird Study doi.org/10.1080/00063657.2019.1638341.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 27 July 2019

Leucism and bent-beak syndrome in Grey-headed and Light-mantled Albatross chicks

Michelle Risi (FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa) and colleagues have published in the journal Polar Biology on plumage and bill abnormalities in Grey-headed Thalassarche chrysostoma and Light-mantled Phoebetria palpebrata Albatross chicks.

The short note’s abstract follows:

“Accessible colonies of Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma chicks on Marion Island have been inspected for chicks presenting mouse wounds from 2015, and during these inspections we found several cases of plumage and bill abnormalities. We report on two cases of leucism and three cases of ‘bent-beak syndrome’ in Grey-headed Albatross chicks, and one case of ‘bent-beak syndrome’ in a Light-mantled Albatross Phoebetria palpebrata chick. The leucistic Grey-headed Albatross chicks were found in 2018 and 2019, and both apparently fledged successfully. Three Grey-headed Albatross chicks with deviated upper mandibles were recorded in 2015, 2018 and 2019, and a single Light-mantled Albatross chick with deviated upper mandible was recorded in a study colony in 2014. None of these chicks survived to fledge. These appear to be the first records of leucism for Grey-headed Albatross, and the first records of bill deformities in any albatross species. Although bill deformities may have been overlooked in the past among Grey-headed and Light-mantled Albatrosses at Marion Island, it is worrying that we have had four records in the last few years. Albatrosses have been intensively studied at many colonies for more than 50 years, and we would have expected previous records of the ‘bent-beak syndrome’ if it occurred naturally at low levels, suggesting a novel threat to these seabirds.”

Leucistic Grey-headed Albatross chick - with a normally-plumaged chick behind, photograph by Chris Jones

 

‘Bent-beak syndrome’ in a Grey-headed Albatross chick, photograph by Peter Ryan

 With thanks to Michelle Risi for information.

Reference:

Risi, M.M., Jones, C.W., Schoombie, S. & Ryan, P.G. 2019.  Plumage and bill abnormalities in albatross chicks on Marion Island.  Polar Biology doi.org/10.1007/s00300-019-02528-x.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 26 July 2019

New Zealand’s endemic Hutton’s Shearwaters rearing chicks fly south, dive to 30 metres

Della Bennet (School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Ecology and Evolution on at-sea movements of the globally Endangered and Endemic and Nationally Vulnerable Hutton's Shearwater Puffinus huttoni.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The Hutton's shearwater Puffinus huttoni is an endangered seabird endemic to Kaikōura, New Zealand, but the spatial and temporal aspects of its at‐sea foraging behavior are not well known.

To identify foraging areas and estimate trip durations, we deployed Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices and Time‐Depth Recorders (TDR) on 26 adult Hutton's shearwaters during the chick‐rearing period in 2017 and 2018.

We found Hutton's shearwaters traveled much further from their breeding grounds at Kaikōura than previously considered, with most individuals foraging in coastal and oceanic areas 125–365 km south and near Banks Peninsula. Trip durations varied from 1 to 15 days (mean = 5 days), and total track lengths varied from 264 to 2,157 km (mean = 1092.9 km).

Although some diving occurred in near‐shore waters near the breeding colony, most foraging was concentrated in four regions south of Kaikōura. Dive durations averaged 23.2 s (range 8.1 to 71.3 s) and dive depths averaged 7.1 m (range 1.5 to 30 m). Foraging locations had higher chlorophyll a levels and shallower water depths than nonforaging locations. Birds did not feed at night, but tended to raft in areas with deeper water than foraging locations.

Mapping the spatial and temporal distribution of Hutton's shearwaters at sea will be fundamental to their conservation, as it can reveal potential areas of overlap with fisheries and other industrial users of the marine environment.”

 

  Hutton's Shearwater at sea

 Reference:

Bennet, D.G., Horton, T.W., Goldstien, S.J., Rowe, L. & Briskie, J.V. 2019.  Flying south: foraging locations of the Hutton's shearwater (Puffinus huttoni) revealed by Time‐Depth Recorders and GPS tracking.  Ecology and Evolution doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5171.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 July 2019

Establishing Black-footed and Laysan Albatross colonies by translocation and social attraction

Eric Vanderwerf (Pacific Rim Conservation, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA) and colleagues have published open access in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation on a project to create new colonies of Black-footed Phoebastria nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses on the Hawaiian island of Oahu safe from sea level rise.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands support some of the largest tropical seabird colonies in the world, but these low-lying islands are threatened by sea level rise and increasing storm surge associated with climate change. Protection of suitable nesting habitat and creation of new breeding colonies on the higher main Hawaiian Islands are among the highest priority conservation actions for these seabirds. From 2015 to 2018, we used social attraction and translocation to begin establishing new colonies of two vulnerable seabirds, Laysan albatross and black-footed albatross, inside a 6.6-ha predator-exclusion fence at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, Oahu. Social attraction with decoys and playbacks of recorded vocalizations resulted in increasing visitation by Laysan albatrosses, with a maximum of 343 visits per year, and the first nesting attempt in 2017. We also translocated 50 Laysan and 40 black-footed albatross chicks to the site when they were 2–4 weeks old and raised them by hand until fledging. On average, the translocated chicks attained a higher body mass, longer wing chord, and fledged 2–3 weeks earlier than naturally-raised chicks. The fledging rate was ≥90% both species. The first translocated bird from the 2015 cohort returned to the release site in 2018, and we expect more translocated birds to return at age 3–5 years and to begin breeding there at age 7–9 years. We expect that continued social attraction of Laysan albatrosses and return of birds already translocated will be enough to establish a colony. For black-footed albatrosses, social attraction is unlikely to contribute to colony establishment during the initial stages, and we plan to translocate 40-50 additional chicks over two more years. The methods we developed to hatch, feed, and fledge albatrosses will be useful for similar projects involving translocation of other seabirds.”

Social attraction systems for Laysan Albatross (left) and Black-footed Albatross (right) at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, Oahu. Each system played vocalizations of the target species and had 10-20 plastic decoys in sitting and bill-pointing postures. Also visible at right are A-frame shelters provided to each chick [from Vanderwerf et al. 2019].
 

Read 20 earlier ALN postings on albatross management efforts at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge.

Reference:

VanderWerf, E.A., Young, L.C., Kohley, C.R., Dalton, M.E.,  Fisher, R., Fowlke, L., Donohue, S. & Dittmar, E. 2019.  Establishing Laysan and black-footed albatross breeding colonies using translocation and social attraction.  Global Ecology and Conservation doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00667.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 July 2019

Help save albatrosses from a gruesome death: web developer required for South Africa’s Mouse Free Marion crowd-funding website

BirdLife South Africa is fund raising for a long-term conservation project to eradicate introduced House Mice Mus musculus that attack and kill albatrosses and petrels on sub-Antarctic Marion Island (click here).  Expressions of interest are required from suitably qualified web developers who can undertake updates to an existing crowd-funding website as well as maintain the site on a 12-month contract with opportunity for extension.

 

This Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma chick on Marion Island will not survive nocturnal attacks by mice

Photograph from the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town

To apply submit a short motivation, CV and quoted rates with contactable references to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 16h00 GMT+2 on Wednesday 31 July.  Consideration will be given to consultants from anywhere within South Africa, but preference will be given to those based in Cape Town, to facilitate regular interactions with BirdLife South Africa staff.

Read more descriptive details of the position here.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 July 2019

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