Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Growing old gracefully. A French researcher is awarded her doctorate for a study of ageing in Wandering and Black-browed Albatrosses

Deborah Pardo (CEBC-CNRS, France) has been awarded her Doctorate this year for a study of ageing in Wandering Diomedea exulans and Black-browed Thalassarche melanophris Albatrosses.  Her thesis, written in French, was submitted to the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris for work she conducted at the Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé.

The English summary of her thesis follows:

"This thesis investigates the effects of age-related in particular associated with senescence in two extremely long-lived species: the black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys) and the wandering albatrosses (Diomedea exulans).  Initially we seek to determine the variations of different life-history traits, demographic and morphological age.  A multi-trait and multi-state approach allows us to model changes in traits with age, taking into account the effects of sex or reproductive status of the previous year in capture-recapture models.  In a second step, we relate these patterns to age dependent changes in the environment in terms of climatic fluctuations, oceanographic and anthropogenic activities (industrial fishing), to determine whether based on their age individuals are influenced differentially.  Finally the differential variations identified in demographic traits due to environmental fluctuations according to age are incorporated into population matrix models to determine if and how extreme events can alter the dynamics and structure of populations.  This work based on data collected from longitudinal and transversal for 50 years in the French Southern Territories brings new elements on the evolutionary ecology of senescence in the wild and how age can affect the population response to global changes in these highly endangered species."

Click here to access a publication on the effects of ageing in Black-browed Albatrosses by Deborah.

Black-browed Albatross Preening by Aleks Terauds
Watch my eye!  A pair of Black-browed Albatrosses engage in allopreening
Photograph by Aleks Terauds

Reference:

Pardo, D. 2012.  Démographie, sénescence et changements globaux chez deux espèces extrêmement longévives.  [Demography, global change and senescence in two extremely long-lived species].  Thèse de Doctorat, Ecole Doctorale Diversité du Vivant, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6), France.  254 pp.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 2 November 2012