Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

50 years of French research on population ecology of Wandering Albatrosses gets reviewed

Henri Weimerskirch (Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, Villiers-en-Bois, France) has published in the Journal of Animal Ecology on linking population dynamics and foraging ecology of globally Vulnerable Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans.

The paper’s summary follows:

“1.Population dynamics and foraging ecology are two fields of the population ecology that are generally studied separately. Yet foraging determines allocation processes and therefore demography. Studies on Wandering albatrosses Diomedea exulans over the past 50 years have contributed to better understand the links between population dynamics and foraging ecology. This paper reviews how these two facets of population ecology have been combined to better understand ecological processes, but also have contributed fundamentally for the conservation of this long-lived threatened species.

2.Wandering albatross research has combined a 50 year long-term study of marked individuals with two decades of tracking studies that have been initiated on this species, favoured by its large size and tameness.

3.At all stages of their life history the body mass of individuals plays a central role in allocation processes, in particular in influencing adult and juvenile survival, decisions to recruit into the population or to invest into provisioning the offspring or into maintenance.

4.Strong age-related variations in demographic parameters are observed and are linked to age-related differences in foraging distribution and efficiency. Marked sex specific differences in foraging distribution, foraging efficiency and changes in mass over life time are directly related to the strong sex specific investment in breeding and survival trajectories of the two sexes, with body mass playing a pivotal role especially in males.

5.Long-term study has allowed determining the sex specific and age specific demographic causes of population decline, and the tracking studies have been able to derive where and how these impacts occur, in particular the role of long line fisheries”.


Wandering Albatross, photograph by Kate Lawrence


Weimerskirch, H. 2018. Linking demographic processes and foraging ecology in wandering albatross - conservation implications.  Journal of Animal Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12817.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 March 2018