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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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

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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

SAVE Brasil, BirdLife partner, lends its support to this year’s World Albatross Day

SAVE Brasil 

SAVE Brasil (Sociedade para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil) is BirdLife International’s national partner in Brazil.  Founded in 2004, its mission is given as “To conserve birds and habitats, connecting people to nature”.

Alice Reisfeld, Project Manager with SAVE-Brasil, writes to ACAP Latest News: “SAVE Brasil is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to the conservation of Brazilian birds and nature.  Following a participatory approach, we work together with governments, civil society organizations, universities, business and communities, to develop and implement strategies, programs and actions that contribute to a better and healthier planet for animals, plants and people”.

SAVE Brasil has been instrumental in the establishment of a number of private and public protected areas, many of which fall within designated Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and among some of the most threatened forests in the world.  Additionally, conservation work by the NGO has resulted in the adequate management of over 120 000 hectares of grasslands.  The protection of those habitats ensures the conservation of more than 600 bird species, 40 of which are threatened.

The NGO now joins a growing number of BirdLife national partners or affiliates in countries which work actively with the Albatross and Petrel Agreement, either as Parties (of which Brazil is one) or as range states for listed species that regularly attend meetings, that have offered their support for the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June.

 Pedro Develey 1. SAVE Brasil

Pedro Develey, SAVE Brasil Director

Pedro Develey, SAVE Brasil’s Director, writes to ACAP Latest News:

“Here at SAVE Brasil we support the inaugural World Albatross Day and we are looking forward to the activities to mark this event in Brazil led by our partner Projeto Albatroz”.

Aqui na SAVE Brasil, nós apoiamos o Dia Mundial do Albatroz inaugural, e estamos ansiosos para as atividades de nossos parceiros do Projeto Albatroz, que marcarão esse evento no Brasil”.

With thanks to Alice Reisfeld, Project Manager, SAVE-Brasil.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 April 2020

Improved breeding success in artificial burrows leads to population growth of Cory’s Shearwaters

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Artificial burrows for Cory's Shearwaters with decoys and a solar-powered sound system on Corvo, Azores, photograph by Steffen Oppel

Nuno Oliveira (Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (SPEA), Lisbon, Portugal) and colleagues have published in the journal Airo on Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris borealis utilizing artificial burrows.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Seabirds are one of the avian groups facing the fastest and highest decline in population numbers around the world, suffering from many threats not only at sea but also on land.  For burrow-nesting seabirds, the loss of adequate breeding habitat, human disturbance and competition with other species make the availability of adequate nesting burrows a limiting factor for the recovery of breeding numbers.  Artificial nest provisioning has been broadly used as a measure to invert population declines, by increasing the availability of higher quality nests. Berlengas Archipelago holds an important breeding population of Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris borealis, mainly concentrated in two different sites, Farilhão Grande Islet and Berlenga Island.  On Berlenga Island, artificial nests have been provided since the late 1980’s.  In this study, we present the results of artificial nest provisioning as a conservation measure implemented over almost 30 years and its effectiveness in inverting a negative population trend found in Farilhão Grande Islet.  We also present up-to-date data on the population size and breeding parameters of Cory´s Shearwater nesting in Berlengas Archipelago.  Breeding success was found to be higher in artificial nests (0.86 ± 0.05) than in natural nests (0.77 ± 0.12). Occupation rate for artificial nests built after 2015 increased along the first 4 years after installation, resulting in an annual growth rate of 9%.  In 2015, 32-34% of the Cory’s Shearwater population was breeding in artificial nests.  A total of 681 active nests were counted along the entire archipelago in 2015, with an estimate of 800 – 975 breeding pairs. In Farilhão Grande, breeding success was particularly low and the breeding population showed a significant negative trend (annual growth rate of -2% since 2005).  However, demographic modelling indicates that a decrease on productivity by itself may not explain the observed negative population growth, and that other factors (e.g., adult survival) may be driving the negative trend. The identification of demographic par9ameters responsible for such changes will provide relevant information for conservation managers and authorities on the proper solutions to put in place. Artificial nests were shown to be an effective conservation measure for Cory’s Shearwater on Berlenga Island, and may thus contribute to the increase of breeding success and of the breeding population size at Farilhão Grande islet.”

corys shearwater hotel 2 corvo steffen oppel

The Cory's Shearwater 'hotel', and the anti-predator fence on Corvo in the Azores, photograph by Steffen Oppel

 

Read a related post on artificial burrows for Cory’s Shearwaters here.

Reference:

Oliveira, N., Abreu, Bores, J., Fagundes, A.I., Alonso, H. & Andrade, J. 2020.  Evaluating the potential of artificial nests as a conservation measure for Cory’s Shearwaters Calonectris borealis breeding in Berlengas Archipelago, Portugal.  Airo 27: 3-19.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 April 2020

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