Phalacrocorax atriceps


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Phalacrocorax atriceps
Species Authority: King, 1828
Common Name(s):
English Imperial Shag, Imperial Cormorant
Leucocarbo atriceps atriceps Christidis and Boles (2008)
Leucocarbo atriceps atriceps Turbott (1990)
Taxonomic Notes: Phalacrocorax atriceps (Turbott 1990) includes bransfieldensis, verrucosus and georgianus contra Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993). Seven species have been recognised involving the southern cormorant complex including four by Siegel-Causey (1988) (followed by Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) and six by Marchant and Higgins (1990). Siegel-Causey's findings were tentative and not based on DNA study (J. Cooper in litt. 1998). Given this uncertainty and the possibility of various treatments, BirdLife has not split P. atriceps thus far, although it is clear that any change in taxonomy would result in the recognition of additional threatened species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Shutes, S., Taylor, J., Calvert, R.
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Four discrete ranges exist. Phalacrocorax atriceps is found on the southern tip of South America, from central Chile round to central Argentina, and on the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). Phalacrocorax (atriceps) bransfieldensis breeds on the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands. Phalacrocorax (atriceps) georgianus is found on the islands of South Georgia (Georgia del Sur), the South Orkney Islands, South Sandwich Islands (Islas Sandwich del Sur) and Shag Rocks (Scotia Sea). In the Indian Ocean, Phalacrocorax (atriceps) verrucosus is restricted to the Kerguelen Islands (French Southern Territories), Phalacrocorax (atriceps) melanogenis occupies the Crozet Islands (French Southern Territories), Phalacrocorax (atriceps) nivalis is found on Heard Island (to Australia) and Phalacrocorax (atriceps) purpurascens is restricted to Macquarie Island (to Australia) (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Antarctica; Argentina; Australia; Chile; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); French Southern Territories; Heard Island and McDonald Islands; South Africa; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This marine species forages in subantartic and Antarctic waters along the coast and around islands. It feeds in inshore waters having a diet which varies geographically, but including fish, crustaceans, squid and benthic invertebrates including sea urchins in the Kerguelen Islands. Breeding begins in either October or November, forming colonies up to hundreds of thousands of birds which are very dense (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Phalacrocorax atriceps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. <>. Downloaded on 23 July 2014.
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