ACAP Latest News

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.

Contact the ACAP Communications Advisor if you wish to have your news featured.

On the EDGE: funding opportunities for conserving evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered species

The EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) of Existence programme of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) highlights and conserves one-of–a-kind species that are on the verge of extinction.  The EDGE Fellowship Programme aims to provide structured training to early-career conservation biologists to undertake an applied research or conservation project on a local EDGE species.

In addition to receiving a grant of up to UK£ 8000, EDGE Fellows attend two regional training courses, undertake online modules in relevant topics and receive one-to-one support from a scientific advisor based at ZSL or a partner organisation.  Applications are now open with a deadline of 15 June 2015 (click here).

Applicants must focus their work on a 100 EDGE species, be an early-career conservation biologist or wildlife manager (less than 10 years’ experience) and be a national and resident of the country in which the proposed focal species occurs.  Priority will be given to projects focusing on EDGE species where limited research has been done and/or that currently receive little or no conservation attention.

Seven procellariiform seabirds are included on the top 100 bird list for 2015, including the Critically Endangered and ACAP-listed Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata.  The other six species are Jamaica Petrel Pterodroma caribbaea, Beck’s Petrel Pseudobulweria becki, Peruvian Diving Petrel Pelecanoides garnotii (a potential candidate species for ACAP listing), Ashy Storm Petrel Oceanodroma homochroa, New Zealand Storm Petrel Oceanites maorianus and White-throated Storm Petrel Nesofregetta fuliginosa – all globally Endangered or Critically Endangered species.


Waved Albatross, photograph by Kate Huyvaert

Successful applicants will be informed by the end of August 2015.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 25 May 2015

Wedge-tailed Shearwaters on the Great Barrier Reef forage outside the marine park in the Coral Sea

Fiona McDuie (Centre for Tropical Environmental & Sustainability Sciences & College of Marine & Environmental Science, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia) and colleagues have published in the open-access journal Marine Ornithology on foraging patterns of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus pacificus breeding in Australia.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“To determine whether breeding tropical shearwaters use “at-distance” locations during the long-trip phase of their bimodal foraging cycle, we deployed PTT satellite tracking devices on adult Wedge-tailed Shearwaters Ardenna pacifica of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia, over three breeding seasons.  During the long-trip phase (8–14 d), a component of a bimodal pattern of foraging not seen previously in a tropical shearwater, birds travelled to distant sites in the Coral Sea between 300 and 1100 km from the breeding colony, primarily to the north and east.  At-distance foraging sites were in deeper water and closer to seamounts than were near-colony foraging sites used for chick provisioning, a combination of features indicating enhanced prey availability at these at-distance locations.  These findings imply that long-term reproductive success at this and likely other GBR colonies is strongly dependent on the continued stability of these at-distance locations, yet at present all are outside the current Great Barrier Reef Marine Park management zone.  To adequately conserve GBR seabirds and other marine species using these resources, a conservation strategy integrated with current management practices is needed for the open waters of the Coral Sea.”

Wedge-tailed Shearwater, photograph by Alan Burger


McDuie, F., Weeks, S.J., Miller, M.G.R. & Congdon, B.C. 2015.  Breeding tropical shearwaters use distant foraging sites when self-provisioning.  Marine Ornithology 43: 123-129.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 24 May 2015

For the birds? Fellowship opportunities in the Southern Ocean

There are just two weeks remaining to the deadline for applications for the 2015 SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) and COMNAP (Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs fellowship Schemes.  SCAR and COMNAP fellowships are worth up to US$ 15 000 each and up to six fellowships in total are on offer for 2015.  The fellowships enable early career researchers to join a project team from another country, opening up new opportunities and often creating research partnerships that last many years and over many Antarctic research seasons. The deadline for applications is 3 June 2015.

For more information on SCAR and COMNAP Fellowships, visit the SCAR or COMNAP websites.

Sooty Albatross, photograph by Ross Wanless

The SCAR and COMNAP schemes have again been launched in conjunction with CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) Scientific Scholarship Scheme, which provides funding of up to AU$ 30 000 to assist early career scientists to participate in the work of the CCAMLR Scientific Committee and its working groups over a period of two years.  The scheme was established in 2010 and a maximum of three awards will be made in 2015.  The objective of the scheme is to build capacity within the CCAMLR scientific community to help generate and sustain the scientific expertise needed to support the work of CCAMLR in the long-term. The deadline for CCAMLR applications is 1 October 2015.  For more information, visit the CCAMLR website.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 23 May 2015

Recognizing conservation efforts: ACAP Working Group member Ed Melvin wins a shared award for his research on bird-scaring lines

The USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries project “Preventing Migratory Seabird Mortality in U.S. West Coast Groundfish Longline Fisheries” is the 2015 recipient of the Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award.  The award was announced at the annual meeting of the Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds on 7 May.

NOAA Fisheries, in collaboration with many partners, works to keep seabirds off the hooks of vessels using bottom longline gear in fisheries off of the U.S. west coast of Washington, Oregon and California (click here).

The award project “involves a relatively simple and low-cost solution known as streamer [bird-scaring] lines.  Streamer lines consist of a long piece of rope with strands of orange tubing suspended every 5 meters that hang down to the water’s surface.  Fishermen deploy the streamer lines from the stern of longline fishing vessels along with the line of baited hooks.  Because the streamer lines are attached to a high point on the back deck of the vessel, they extend back to cover and protect the area where the baited hooks are sinking, preventing the seabirds from get hooked or entangled” (click here).

Twin bird-scaring lines deployed, photograph by Barry Watkins

The award is shared (among others) with Washington Sea Grant’s Ed Melvin, a long-standing member of ACAP’s Seabird Bycatch Working Group, who has trialled different designs of bird-scaring lines in the North Pacific and off southern Africa.  “In 2009 Melvin and team traveled farther afield to work with the Japanese tuna fleet off South Africa.  After testing multiple streamer and weighted long-line combinations, they found a configuration that, together with setting baited lines at night, eliminated seabird bycatch with virtually no impact on crew labor or fish catches” (click here).

With thanks to Barry Baker for information.

Selected Literature:

Melvin, E.F., Guy, T.J. & Read, L.B. 2013.  Reducing seabird bycatch in the South African joint venture tuna fishery using bird-scaring lines, branch line weighting and nighttime setting of hooks.  Fisheries Research 147: 72-82.

Melvin, E.F., Guy, T.J. & Read, L.B. 2014.  Best practice seabird bycatch mitigation for pelagic longline fisheries targeting tuna and related species.  Fisheries Research 149: 5-18.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 May 2015

PhD opportunity in France to study petrel phylogenetics and phylogeography closes soon

The phylogeography of many seabird species remains poorly known.  They are highly mobile organisms supposedly free from geographical barriers to dispersal, which should theoretically prevent population differentiation through isolation.   However, population differentiation within a species can be significant despite high mobility (Friesen et al. 2007).  Many species of seabirds are highly philopatric, partially or completely removing the effects of dispersion. Petrels (family Procellariidae) are among those species.  Despite a large number of ecological studies on petrels, little is known of their phylogenetic relationships and their phylogeography, and many taxonomic issues are yet to be resolved.

The overall objective of the proposed project is to study the phylogenetic and phylogeographic characteristics of the Procellariidae to describe better their current distribution, and attempt to characterize the population differentiation processes that took place among species in this family.  From a large collection of field and museum samples (genetic samples of nearly 4000 individuals from 44 different species; morphological data from 12 000 museum specimens already available) and behavioural data (vocalization data for most species), the aim of this PhD project will be to improve our understanding of procellariid evolution and biogeography by selecting a few emblematic case studies (e.g. speciation radiation in the Pterodroma genus; species complex or super species in either Pterodroma or Puffinus) and by expanding already available data sets.  For instance, whether retained ancestral genetic variation is masking contemporary barriers to gene flow, and how past population bottlenecks contribute to contemporary genetic structure, could be evaluated using coalescent-based methods.  This work will be strongly anchored in conservation biology, since half of the petrel species are currently threatened.

Applicants should have a Master’s degree in a relevant field, experience with molecular laboratory techniques, experience with phylogenetics and phylogeography and an excellent background knowledge in evolutionary biology below, at and above the species level.

To apply send CV with your publication record, a list of skills relevant to the project, contact information for two academic references, and a one-page cover letter by 25 May 015 to Eric Pante (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Vincent Bretagnolle (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Balearic Shearwater at sea

Read the full advert here.


Friesen, V.L., Burg, T.M. & McCoy, K.D. 2007.  Mechanisms of population differentiation in seabirds.  Molecular Ecology 16: 1765-1785.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 May 2015

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

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