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.

Travel, or rather stay at home? Wandering Albatrosses from the Crozets and Kerguelen have different migratory patterns

Henri Weimerskirch (Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé, Villiers en Bois, France) and colleagues have published in the online and open-access journal Scientific Reports on differing migratory strategies of two populations of Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Migratory behavior, routes and zones used during the non-breeding season are assumed to have been selected to maximize fitness, and can lead to genetic differentiation.  Yet, here we show that migration strategies differ markedly between and within two genetically similar populations of wandering albatross Diomedea exulans from the Crozet and Kerguelen archipelagos in the Indian Ocean.  Wandering albatrosses usually breed biennially if successful, and during the sabbatical year, all birds from Kerguelen migrate to the Pacific Ocean, whereas most from Crozet are sedentary.  Instead of taking the shortest routes, which would involve a return against headwinds, migratory birds fly with the westerly winds, requiring detours of 10,000s km.  In total, migrants circumnavigate Antarctica 2 to 3 times, covering more than 120,000 km in a single sabbatical year.  Our results indicate strong links between migratory behavior and fitness; all birds from Kerguelen breed biennially, whereas a significant proportion of those from Crozet, especially females, are sedentary and breed in consecutive calendar years.  To breed annually, these females temporarily change mate, but return to their original partner in the following year.  This extreme variation in migratory behavior has important consequences in term of life history evolution and susceptibility to climate change and fisheries."


Wandering Albatross at sea, photograph by John Chardine

With thanks to Richard Phillips for information.


Henri Weimerskirch, H., Delord, K., Guitteaud, A., Phillips, R.A. & Pinet, P.  2015.  Extreme variation in migration strategies between and within wandering albatross populations during their sabbatical year, and their fitness consequences.  Scientific Reports 5, No. 8853.  doi:10.1038/srep08853.

J. Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 14 March 2015

A Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater eats krill

Maite Louzao (Centro Oceanográfico de Gijón/Xixón, Spain) and colleagues have published early-view in the journal Marine Ornithology on krill regurgitated by a ACAP-listed and Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus during the chick-rearing season.

“In this study, we report observations that, during breeding season, the diet of the endemic Balearic Shearwater includes macrozooplankton, specifically the krill Nyctiphanes couchii.  Further research in needed to accurately assess the importance of euphausiids in the diet of the Balearic Shearwater.”

Balearic Shearwater, photograph by Daniel Oro 


Louzao, M., García, D., Rodríguez, B. & Abelló, P. 2015.  Evidence of krill in the diet of Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicus.  Marine Ornithology 43: 49-51.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 March 2015

Still a need for real data? Predictive computer models underestimate overlap with fishing effort and potentially misinform bycatch mitigation efforts for the Grey Petrel

Leigh Torres (Marine Mammal Institute, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Newport, Oregon, USA) and colleagues have published in the open-access, online journal PloS ONE on modelling at-sea distribution of ACAP-listed Grey Petrels Procellaria cinerea from three different populations.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Species distribution models (SDMs) are increasingly applied in conservation management to predict suitable habitat for poorly known populations.  High predictive performance of SDMs is evident in validations performed within the model calibration area (interpolation), but few studies have assessed SDM transferability to novel areas (extrapolation), particularly across large spatial scales or pelagic ecosystems.  We performed rigorous SDM validation tests on distribution data from three populations of a long-ranging marine predator, the grey petrel Procellaria cinerea, to assess model transferability across the Southern Hemisphere (25-65°S).  Oceanographic data were combined with tracks of grey petrels from two remote sub-Antarctic islands (Antipodes and Kerguelen) using boosted regression trees to generate three SDMs: one for each island population, and a combined model.  The predictive performance of these models was assessed using withheld tracking data from within the model calibration areas (interpolation), and from a third population, Marion Island (extrapolation).  Predictive performance was assessed using k-fold cross validation and point biserial correlation.  The two population-specific SDMs included the same predictor variables and suggested birds responded to the same broad-scale oceanographic influences.  However, all model validation tests, including of the combined model, determined strong interpolation but weak extrapolation capabilities.  These results indicate that habitat use reflects both its availability and bird preferences, such that the realized distribution patterns differ for each population.  The spatial predictions by the three SDMs were compared with tracking data and fishing effort to demonstrate the conservation pitfalls of extrapolating SDMs outside calibration regions.  This exercise revealed that SDM predictions would have led to an underestimate of overlap with fishing effort and potentially misinformed bycatch mitigation efforts.  Although SDMs can elucidate potential distribution patterns relative to large-scale climatic and oceanographic conditions, knowledge of local habitat availability and preferences is necessary to understand and successfully predict region-specific realized distribution patterns.”

Grey Petrel at sea, photograph by Peter Ryan


Torres, L.G., Sutton, P.J.H., Thompson, D.R., Delord, K., Weimerskirch, H., Sagar, P.M., Sommer, E., Dilley, B.J., Ryan, P.G. & Phillips, R.A. 2015.  Poor transferability of species distribution models for a pelagic predator, the Grey Petrel, indicates contrasting habitat preferences across ocean basins.  PloS ONE  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120014.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 March 2015

Utilizing social media to enhance communication among seabird researchers: the first World Seabird Twitter Conference gets underway this month

The first World Seabird Twitter Conference (#WSTC1) gets underway on 20 and 21 March.

“A Twitter conference is a social media event that occurs from the comfort of your living room!! (or wherever you might be currently seated).  This event is meant to bring together seabird scientists from around the world in an online setting to encourage communication and collaboration, particularly when costs of travel are currently high.”

Registration is now closed with 42 “talks” offered from 12 countries.  Presentations will consist of a maximum of six 140-character tweets with 15-minute time slots accorded to each author over the two-day time period.  Discussion and questions are encouraged by sending tweets to the authors.

Of the 42 talks to be tweeted at least eight will be about procellariiform seabirds as listed here by author and title.

Martin Berg:  Using the fluttering shearwater (Puffinus gavia) as an ecological indicator for marine ecosystem health in northern New Zealand.

Rachel Buxton:  One method does not suit all: variable settlement responses of three procellariid species to vocalization playbacks.

Rachael Sagar:  Optimising translocation efforts of Mottled Petrels (Pterodroma inexpectata): growth, provisioning, meal size and the efficacy of an artificial diet for chicks

Dilek Sahlin:  Are there more yelkouan shearwaters than we thought? [Puffinus yelkouan].

Matthew Savoca:  Procellariiform seabirds link chemical ecology to marine biogeochemistry: implications and future directions.

Kylie Scales: Ensemble ecological niche models identify preferred foraging habitats of grey-headed albatrosses Thalassarche chrysostoma.

Alice Treval:  Elevated levels of plastic ingestion by a high-Arctic seabird: the northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis).

Saskia Wischnewski:  Exceptionally long provisioning trips to the mid-Atlantic and western Scotland by Manx Shearwaters (Puffinus puffinus) breeding on the edge of Europe.

A Fluttering Shearwater in its artificial burrow, photograph my Shane Cotter

Click here to for details of time slots and authors’ twitter handles.

Following a judging process the winner of the first WSTC will be awarded a free registration to the Second World Seabird Conference to be held in Cape Town, South Africa in October this year.

Click here to read more about this innovative use of social media.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 11 March 2015

Increasing awareness: ACAP gets featured in an encyclopaedia of the Polar Regions

From time to time, ACAP has published on its roles and activities in scientific journals, scholarly books, in the popular literature and via presentations at scientific conferences (see the list of selected literature below).  Most recently the Agreement has been featured in a two-volume geographic encyclopaedia of the World’s Arctic and Antarctic Regions.

The Action Plan for the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) states in its Article 6 on Education and Public Awareness that:

“The Parties shall seek to make information on the conservation status of albatrosses and petrels, the threats facing them, and the activities taken under the Agreement, available to the scientific, fishing and conservation communities, as well as to relevant local authorities and other decision-makers, and to neighbouring states” (6.1); and

“The Parties shall seek to make local communities and the public in general more aware of the status of albatrosses and petrels and the threats facing them” (6.2).

One of the ways that these two objectives are being achieved is via daily postings to ACAP Latest News on this website, which are then copied to ACAP’s Facebook Page (currently with just below 1900 members).  Since 2006 these research and conservation news stories have covered abstracts of scientific publications, reports of ACAP attendances at meetings of international fishery management organizations with seabird bycatch issues, news of conferences, field trips and alien eradications as well as book reviews, obituaries, grant and employment opportunities and more.

White-phase Southern Giant Petrel in Antarctica, photograph by Michael Dunn

Selected Literature:

Cooper, J. 2006.  Conservation of albatrosses and petrels of the Southern Ocean.  In: Boere, G.C., Galbraith, C. & Stroud, D.A. (Eds).  Waterbirds around the World.  Edinburgh: The Stationary Office.  pp. 113-119.

Cooper, J. 2014.  Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP).  In: Hund, A.J. (Ed.). Antarctica and the Arctic Circle: a Geographic Encyclopedia of the Earth's Polar Regions.  Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Cooper, J. & Baker, G.B. 2008. Identifying candidate species for inclusion within the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.  Marine Ornithology 36: 1-8.

Cooper, J. & Misiak, W. 2015.  The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels:  a growing resource for information on procellariiform research and conservation.  Second World Seabird Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, October 2015 [submitted abstract].

Cooper, J. & Ryan, P.G. 2014.  Progress with supporting the Albatross and Petrel Agreement on the outer islands of Tristan da Cunha.  Tristan da Cunha Newsletter 54: 32-34.

Cooper, J., Baker, G.B., Double, M.C., Gales, R., Papworth, W, Tasker, M.L. & Waugh, S.M. 2006.  The Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels: rationale, history, progress and the way forward.  Marine Ornithology 34: 1-5.

Cooper, J., Morgan, K.H. & Tasker, M.L. 2009.  Listing North Pacific albatrosses within the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.  Marine Ornithology 37: 189-191.

Harris, J. 2007.  Albatrosses and Petrels, Agreement for the Conservation of.  In: Riffenburgh, B (Ed.).  Encyclopedia of the Antarctic.  Vol. 1.  New York: Routledge.  pp. 15-17.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 10 March 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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