Phalacrocorax gaimardi


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Phalacrocorax gaimardi
Species Authority: (Lesson & Garnot, 1828)
Common Name(s):
English Red-legged Cormorant

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Frere, E.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Lascelles, B., Pilgrim, J., Sharpe, C J, Anderson, O.
This species has a moderately small population which is showing moderately rapid declines owing to mortality in fishing operations and unsustainable exploitation. For these reasons it is classified as Near Threatened.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Phalacrocorax gaimardi occurs on the coasts of southern South America: 13,000-15,000 breeding birds in the Pacific from Isla Foca, Peru, to Punta Elefante, Peninsula de Taitao, Chile; and 1,600-1,800 birds in the Atlantic from Bahia Sanguinetto to the Monte León National Park, Santa Cruz province and occasionally to the strait of Magellan, Argentina (Gandini & Frere 1995; Zavalaga et al. 2002; Frere et al. 2004, 2005). Populations have declined, particularly in Peru (Frere et al. 2004). A series of surveys in Peru in 1999-2000 estimated the population to number 1,518-2,082 birds, and reported declines of up to 97.9% (3,229 to 69 birds) at ten localities in northern and central Peru between 1968 and 1999-2000, declines of 97.6% (2,230 to 54 birds) in the Chinchas and Ballestas islands between 1978 and 1999-2000, and declines of 72.6% (580 to 159 birds) at eight southern localities between the first half of the 1990s and 1999-2000 (Zavalaga et al. 2002). In Chile, surveys during 1998-2000 produced an estimate of 5,018-5,218 breeding pairs (Frere et al. 2004). Although El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events may have led to distributional changes (with southern regions having become particularly important for the species), the population declines reported in Peru do not seem to have been mirrored in Chile (Frere et al. 2004). The main 12 colonies in Argentina are concentrated along the coast of Santa Cruz (Puerto Deseado and Santa Cruz) (Gandini & Frere 1995; Frere et al. 2005), where coastal development is increasing rapidly (Gandini & Frere 1995). During the last 10 years the Argentinian breeding population has declined by 18% but the causes are unknown (Millones et al. 2007). The world population is now estimated at 30,000 individuals (Frere in litt. 2007) . Continued population declines may lead to this species being uplisted to Vulnerable.

Argentina; Chile; Peru
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The world population has been estimated at 30,000 individuals (E. Frere in litt. 2007).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It favours rocky coastline with cliffs for nesting and shallow cold productive offshore waters for feeding. It nests in inaccessible areas rather than the tops of rocky islets. Sometimes nests in loose aggregations approaching colonies. Generally solitary when feeding but may occur in flocks. Red-legged Cormorants are inshore feeders (less than 3 km from the colony) and forage in shallow waters (<15 m) on benthic fish and invertebrates (Frere et al. 2004).  Often found coexisting with rock shags Phalacrocorax magellanicus, sharing the same cliffs but not mixing nest sites, its breeding success shown to increase with this sympatry (Millones et al. 2008). In two of eight localities it also breeds sympatrically with imperial cormorants Phalocrocorax atriceps (Millones et al. 2008). Avian predation of eggs and wind exposure at nest sites are important factors influencing chick mortality, with studies showing highest densities of active nests in areas protected from prevailing wind conditions (Millones et al. 2008).

Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Most threats result from interactions with fishers and fisheries: directly through entanglement in equipment, and indirectly through competition with fishers targeting benthic invertebrates and also when fishers take adults, chicks and eggs at a subsistence level. The species has been detrimentally affected by ENSO events in the north of its range, particularly in northern Peru where dramatic declines have been recorded owing to kelp die-off caused by sea temperature rises. The main colonies in Argentina are concentrated around Puerto Deseado (588 mature individuals [Gandini & Frere 1995]), where there is a plan to double the size of the industrial harbour (Frere et al. 2004). The increase in fishing activity that would follow this development would favour its main predator, Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus (Frere et al. 2004) which is known to heavily impact breeding success (Millones et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Chile is discussing the creation of a network of marine protected areas along its coastline. Peru and Argentina are improving their coastal marine protected areas network.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Support the proposal to establish a network of marine protected areas in coastal Chile. Assess the impact of the proposed industrial harbour in Argentina and recommend appropriate action. Monitor populations to identify changing trends. Research ways to minimise fisheries interactions. Identify and monitor key sites for the species, and aim to establish these as marine protected areas. Determine levels of hunting and bycatch in various parts of its range.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Phalacrocorax gaimardi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 01 September 2015.
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