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.

The sky is not the limit for the Black-browed Albatross: limited by food availability

Ewan Wakefield (British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK) and colleagues write in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B on what regulates populations of Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Animal populations are frequently limited by the availability of food or of habitat.  In central-place foragers, the cost of accessing these resources is distance-dependent rather than uniform in space.  However, in seabirds, a widely studied exemplar of this paradigm, empirical population models have hitherto ignored this cost.  In part, this is because non-independence among colonies makes it difficult to define population units.  Here, we model the effects of both resource availability and accessibility on populations of a wide-ranging, pelagic seabird, the black-browed albatross Thalassarche melanophris.  Adopting a multi-scale approach, we define regional populations objectively as spatial clusters of colonies.  We consider two readily quantifiable proxies of resource availability: the extent of neritic waters (the preferred foraging habitat) and net primary production (NPP).  We show that the size of regional albatross populations has a strong dependence, after weighting for accessibility, on habitat availability and to a lesser extent, NPP.  Our results provide indirect support for the hypothesis that seabird populations are regulated from the bottom-up by food availability during the breeding season, and also suggest that the spatio-temporal predictability of food may be limiting.  Moreover, we demonstrate a straightforward, widely applicable method for estimating resource limitation in populations of central-place foragers.”


Black-browed Albatross in flight, photograph by Juan Pablo Seco Pon

With thanks to Richard Phillips for information.


Wakefield, E.D., Phillips, R.A. & Matthiopoulos, J. 2014.  Habitat-mediated population limitation in a colonial central-place forager: the sky is not the limit for the black-browed albatross.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 22 January 2014

Registration for the 12th Seabird Group Conference is open

The 12th International Conference of the (UK) Seabird Group will be held at Merton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK over 21-23 March 2014.  The lead convener will be Tim Guilford, Professor of Animal Behaviour, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford (click here).

Preparations for the conference are now well underway.  Click here for details, including instructions for registration.

Balearic Shearwater, photograph by Daniel Oro

The 11th International Seabird Group Conference was held at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom in September 2011 (click here for abstracts of this and of previous conferences).

With thanks to Ilke Win for information.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 21 January 2014

Fellowship opportunity to help third-world seabirds

“The Seabird Restoration Program (SRP) of the National Audubon Society is seeking applicants for the Herz International Seabird Fellowship.  The fellowship is intended for biologists working with an NGO or GO from third world countries seeking experience with seabird restoration methods for applied seabird conservation. The 10-week field practicum combines ecosystem and behavior theory with practical experience from applied disciplines such as wildlife management and aviculture to develop proactive techniques for managing rare and endangered seabirds.

Recipients of the Josephine D. Herz Fellowship will begin their internship at Audubon's Hog Island Environmental Education Center (Bremen, Maine USA) on May 26, 2014 where they will take part in an intensive two day orientation program with approximately twenty-summer interns. After the orientation, the Herz Fellow will receive field experience at several managed seabird nesting islands throughout the Gulf of Maine. Instructors for the training program include biologists from Audubon's SRP and other professional seabird biologists and ecologists.”

Grey-headed Albatross, photographed by Richard Phillips

The Fellowship provides travel from the recipient’s home country, room, board and camping equipment (click here).

Deadline for applications is 15 March 2014 (click here to apply).

Attach completed application and reference letters and send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Sanctuary Manager, National Audubon Society. 

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer. 20 January 2014

South Atlantic male and female Sooty Shearwaters forage in different areas during pre-laying

April Hedd (Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology Program, Psychology Department, Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada) and colleagues have published open-access in PLoS ONE on differences in foraging areas by breeding male and female Sooty Shearwaters Puffinus griseus in the South Atlantic.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Tracking technology has revolutionized knowledge of seabird movements; yet, few studies have examined sex differences in distribution and behavior of small to medium-sized, sexually-monomorphic seabirds.  Application of bird-borne geolocation-immersion loggers revealed seasonal segregation in the sexually-monomorphic Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus, mainly in the pre-laying period, when there were clear differences in reproductive roles.  Shearwaters first returned to the Falkland Islands on 27 Sept±8 d; males, on average, 8 d earlier than females.  Prior to egg-laying, distribution at sea, colony attendance and behaviour depended on sex.  Males foraged locally over the southern Patagonian Shelf and Burdwood Bank, spending mainly single days at sea and intervening nights in the burrow.  Females, who flew for more of the day during this time, foraged in more distant areas of the northern Patagonian Shelf and Argentine Basin that were deeper, warmer and relatively more productive.  Attendance of females at the colony was also more variable than that of males and, overall, males were present for significantly more of the pre-laying period (38 vs. 19% of time).  Sex differences were reduced following egg-laying, with males and females using similar foraging areas and making trips of similar mean duration in incubation (7.6±2.7 d) and chick-rearing (1.4±1.3 d).  Congruence continued into the non-breeding period, with both sexes showing similar patterns of activity and areas of occupancy in the NW Atlantic.  Thus, seasonal changes in reproductive roles influenced patterns of sexual segregation; this occurred only early in the season, when male Sooty Shearwaters foraged locally, returning regularly to the colony to defend (or maintain) the burrow or the mate, while females concentrated on building resources for egg development in distant and relatively more productive waters.”

Sooty Shearwater at sea, photograph by John Graham

With thanks to April Hedd for information.


Hedd, A., Montevecchi, W.A., Phillips, R.A. & Fifield, D.A. 2014.  Seasonal sexual segregation by monomorphic Sooty Shearwaters Puffinus griseus reflects different reproductive roles during the pre-laying period.  PLoS ONE.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 January 2014

Australian fishing industry association to research seabird mitigation for trawlers

Australia’s South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA) has received an Australian Government grant of A$360 000 to continue work on protecting seabirds from fishing boats.  The Caring for our Country grant will be used to reduce collisions that occur between seabirds and the cables used to tow trawl nets (click here).

"All trawl vessels in South East Australia and the Great Australian Bight operate with regulated Seabird Management Plans to limit interactions with seabirds.  These plans incorporate measures like managing their offal by batching or retaining it (to avoid attracting the seabirds) and using a device that protects seabirds from bumping into trawl cables.

Most vessels currently use large inflatable buoys attached to the vessel to ensure that seabirds do not collide with trawl cables.  Although the buoys are effective, they are very difficult to use, and don’t work as well, because they tangle.  So we’re keen to use the grant to develop alternative mitigation measures that are at least as effective as the buoys, but are more practical for use on trawl vessels.

The grant will be spent on trials of new methods to avoid harming seabirds, and will be monitored by scientific observers.  Observers will be used to monitor and validate the use of water sprayers as seabird deterrents.

Additional scientific observer coverage will be used to test a yet-to-be identified approach to mitigation.  Fishermen will be asked to nominate concepts for devices and a panel of experts will select a second device that will be tested.

The grant will also allow several young fishermen from South East Australia and the Great Australian Bight to travel to New Zealand to learn about New Zealand seabird mitigation measures.  We hope to that an expert from New Zealand can travel to Australia to help Australian trawl fishermen develop more methods to avoid any harm to seabirds.”

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 18 January 2014

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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