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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Can Black Petrels be sexed by measuring them?

Claudia Mischler (Wildlife Management International Limited) and colleagues have published in the New Zealand journal Notornis on sexing ACAP-listed Black Petrels Procellaria parkinsoni utilizing morphometrics.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Discriminant function analysis (DFA) is widely used to determine sex in the field from morphological measurements of bird species with monomorphic plumage.  Sexual dimorphism was examined in black petrels (Procellaria parkinsoni) using 7 external measurements of adult birds breeding on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand.  Males were significantly larger than females in absolute values of all measurements except for tarsus.  Two stepwise DFA models were developed.  The first used all 7 parameters, while the second model used only 6 parameters in order to increase sample size.  Model one and two showed an 88 and 82% classification success, respectively, most likely due to the high overlap in measurements between males and females.  These canonical functions were not accurate enough for field surveys, but may be improved using a larger and more representative sample size.”

 

Black Petrel, photograph by New Zealand Department of Conservation

Reference:

Mischler, C.P.,Bell, E.A.,Landers, T.J. & Dennis, T.E. 2015.  Sex determination of black petrels (Procellaria parkinsoni) using morphometric measurements and discriminant function analysis.  Notornis 62: 57-62.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 06 August 2015

Gender and geographic variation in morphometrics of White-chinned Petrels in New Zealand

Claudia Mischler (Wildlife Management International Limited) and colleagues have published in the New Zealand journal Notornis on variation in bycaught White-chinned Petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis in New Zealand waters.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Discriminant function analysis (DFA) was used to determine gender and geographic variation in the morphometrics of white-chinned petrels (Procellaria aequinoctialis) measured from fisheries bycatch in New Zealand.  Samples were divided into 5 clusters based on capture location.  A DFA model was created using adult breeding birds presumed to be from the 2 main locations at the Auckland Islands and Antipodes Islands.  Geographic variation in head and bill, skull width, culmen, culmen depth at base, culmen width at base, right and left mid-toe and claw, tail, and right and left wing was found between birds presumed to be from the ‘Auckland’ and ‘Antipodes’ clusters, with ‘Antipodes’ birds being generally larger than ‘Auckland’ birds.  Gender variation in head and bill, skull width, culmen, culmen depth at base, culmen width at base, minimum bill depth, right and left mid-toe and claw, right wing, right and left tarsus existed for ‘Auckland’ birds.  Gender variation in head and bill, skull width, culmen, culmen depth at base, culmen width at base, minimum bill depth, right and left mid-toe and claw, and tail existed for ‘Antipodes’ birds.  Birds in the other 3 clusters were classified as originating from the Auckland Islands or Antipodes Islands.  The clustering suggested that birds from the Auckland Islands tended to forage mostly north and west, whereas birds from the Antipodes Islands foraged mostly towards the north.  There were large overlaps at Puysegur Point and particularly the Chatham Rise of birds from both breeding locations.  This study shows the usefulness of bycatch necropsies, and emphasises the need for further studies in geographic variation and sexual dimorphism at all New Zealand breeding locations.”

White-chinned Petrels, photograph by Ben Phalan

Reference:

Mischler, C.P., Robertson, C.J.R. & Bell, E.A. 2015.  Gender and geographic variation in morphometrics of white-chinned petrels (Procellaria aequinoctialis) in New Zealand and their foraging activities as determined from fisheries bycatch.  Notornis 62: 63-70.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 05 August 2015

ACAP produces a booklet to celebrate 10 years of achievements

A booklet entitled “Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels Achievements in the First Ten Years 2004 – 2014” has been produced in the three ACAP official languages of English, French and Spanish by the ACAP Secretariat and the Advisory Committee’s Officials based on the inputs of ACAP Parties.

The preface of the booklet follows, written by ACAP’s Executive Secretary, Warren Papworth and Chair of its Advisory Committee (and Executive Secretary Elect) Marco Favero.

“The booklet’s purpose is to identify the main achievements of the Agreement and its Parties in improving the conservation status of the species listed in Annex 1, as well as to identify the key challenges remaining in its implementation.  The reports in this booklet reveal the significant progress made by ACAP Parties in addressing threats to the survival of albatrosses and petrels, both on land and at sea.  This work has been complemented by the activities of many non-Party Range States, such as Canada, Japan and the United States of America, who have actively participated in and supported the work of the Agreement, even though they are not signatories to it at this point in time.  The active support of non-governmental organisations such as American Bird Conservancy, BirdLife International, Humane Society International, Pro Delphinus, Projeto Albatroz, Southern Seabird Solutions and World Wildlife Fund amongst others, has also been instrumental in the success that has been achieved in improving the conservation status of albatrosses and petrels globally.

The Agreement has played a crucial role in bringing together a global network of researchers and managers to identify threats to albatrosses and petrels, to prioritize conservation actions and to find effective solutions to them.  Through the work of its Seabird Bycatch Working Group, it has identified effective measures that can be taken to prevent the bycatch of seabirds in longline and trawl fisheries, which together pose the greatest at-sea threat to the survival of many albatrosses and petrels.  Similarly, ACAP’s Population and Conservation Status Working Group has developed guidelines that identify best-practice methods to address land-based threats at the breeding sites of these species.  Significant progress has been achieved at some important breeding sites, where large-scale pest eradication programmes have been completed.  The success of these programmes has in some cases been immediately noticeable, with a number of species returning to breed on these islands following the successful completion of the pest-eradication programmes.  Threats from disease and introduced pests still threaten the survival of some species and it is important that the work of ACAP Parties continues at these breeding sites in the years ahead until these threats are addressed.  The Agreement has also been instrumental in coordinating the development of effective seabird conservation measures in both domestic and high seas fisheries, in the latter case, through its Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO) engagement strategy.  As a result of this work, many of the RFMOs whose fisheries overlap with the foraging areas of albatrosses and petrels have now adopted seabird conservation measures, based on ACAP’s best-practice advice.  The challenge remains however to see the effective implementation of the conservation measures that have now been adopted.  A lack of data has made it difficult to evaluate the extent to which these conservation measures have been implemented in many fisheries.  To achieve ACAP’s objective of achieving and maintaining a favourable conservation status of albatrosses and petrels, it is essential that effective observer programmes and/or electronic monitoring programmes be put in place.  The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which has 100% observer coverage in its longline fishing operations, has proven that the reduction of seabird bycatch to nil or negligible levels is possible in high seas fisheries.  ACAP’s focus in the coming years must be to see this success replicated in other fisheries, to continue its work in addressing threats at breeding sites and to seek the active participation of those Range States who are not yet engaged in its work.”

Click to access the English, French and Spanish versions of the 10-year achievements booklet.

 

A Wandering Albatross flies by at sea, photograph by John Chardine

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 04 August 2015

The ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwater is to be surveyed along the southern United Kingdom coast this month

An at-sea survey for the ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicus is planned along the United Kingdom coastline between Portland Bill in Dorset and Ilfracombe in north Devon (including Lundy Island) this month by MARINElife (click here).

The project aims to “gather UK population data for Balearic shearwaters during a time when animals visit UK waters to moult, and help establish a UK population estimate; maximise our ability to estimate numbers in this region, as just surveying one smaller area in a day may be misleading as Balearic shearwaters are often seen in flight, passing through an area; build on evidence for identifying hotspots for Balearic shearwaters; and better understand the potential threats to Balearic shearwaters, particularly where we may see large groups in relatively restricted areas of the Western Channel.”

Balearic Shearwater at sea, photograph by Pep Arcos

MARINElife is a charity which works to conserve marine wildlife through research and education.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 03 August 2015

The ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwater retains its Critically Endangered status in the European Red List of Birds

The ACAP-listed Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus has a global threatened status of Critically Endangered (click here).  Following a new assessment at a European level its threatened status has been retained in the recently released European Red List of Birds (click here).

Conservation actions proposed include “control and eradicate introduced predators (with particular emphasis on carnivores) in breeding colonies identified as at risk.  Thoroughly study the problem of bycatch by long-line fishing and develop awareness campaigns directed at the fishing sector, in order to mitigate this threat, plus assess and implement the appropriate mitigation measures.  Ensure effective protection for nesting sites and marine hotspots, and the implementation of monitoring schemes and management plans.  Develop a rapid response plan for a potential oil spill close to main feeding and breeding areas.  Raise awareness and stop human exploitation.  Study small pelagic fish populations in the western Mediterranean and in the Bay of Biscay to assess extent of overexploitation and how this affects the species.  Assess the impact of pollutants and heavy metals on this species.  Improve understanding of at-sea distribution, including during the non-breeding season.”

 

Balearic Shearwater in the hand, photograph by Daniel Oro

Conservation assessments are included in the red list for all the 15 procellariiform species that breed within the European region as defined, including the Yelkouan Shearwater P. yelkouan (click here) and four other Puffinus and Calonectris Shearwaters.

Reference:

BirdLife International 2015.  European Red List of Birds.  Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 02 August 2015

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