Map_thumbnail_large_font

Diomedea exulans

Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_onStatus_en_offStatus_cr_offStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES PROCELLARIIFORMES DIOMEDEIDAE

Scientific Name: Diomedea exulans
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name(s):
English Wandering Albatross
Taxonomic Notes: Diomedea exulans (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into D. exulans, D. dabbenena and D. antipodensis following Brooke (2004), contra Robertson and Nunn (1998) who also split antipodensis into T. antipodensis and T. gibsoni.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A4bd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Taylor, J. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Cooper, J., Croxall, J., Gales, R., Phillips, R. & Weimerskirsch, H.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Anderson, O., Calvert, R., Nel, D., Small, C., Stattersfield, A., Sullivan, B., Symes, A.
Justification:
Overall past and predicted future declines amount to a rapid population reduction over a period of three generations, qualifying the species as Vulnerable. At South Georgia, this species is undergoing a rapid decline over three generations (70 years). On the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands, the populations rapidly declined between 1970-1986, then stabilised, but have recently declined again. Longline fishing is believed to be a main cause of decline in this species, causing reductions in adult survival and juvenile recruitment, and this threat is ongoing.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Diomedea exulans breeds on South Georgia (Georgias del Sur) (c. 25% of the global breeding population), Prince Edward Islands (South Africa) (c. 40% of the global population), Crozet Islands and Kerguelen Islands (French Southern Territories) (approximately 10% of the global population) and Macquarie Island (Australia) (approximately four pairs breeding per year), with a total global population of c. 6,100 pairs breeding in any given year (ACAP 2009). At South Georgia, the population declined by 1.8% per annum between 1984 and 2004 (Poncet et al. 2006). The population on Crozet declined by 54% between 1970 - 1986. From the mid 1980s to late 1990s, the Crozet, Kerguelen and Prince Edward Islands populations appeared to be stable or increasing (Weimerskirch et al. 1997, Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998, Crawford et al. 2003, Ryan et al. 2003), but declines have recently been detected (P. Ryan in litt 2008, H. Weimerskirch in litt. 2008). Overall declines are estimated to exceed 30% over 70 years. Recovery is believed to be impeded by a decline in recruitment rate (Weimerskirch et al. 2006). Non-breeding and juvenile birds remain north of 50°S between subantarctic and subtropical waters with a significant proportion crossing the Indian Ocean to wintering grounds around the southern and eastern coast of Australia (ACAP 2009). A significant proportion of the Crozet and Kerguelen populations disperse into the Pacific and the western coast of South America (H. Weimerskirch in litt. 2008).

Countries:
Native:
Antarctica; Argentina; Australia; Brazil; Chile; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); French Southern Territories; Heard Island and McDonald Islands; Madagascar; Mozambique; Namibia; New Zealand; Norfolk Island; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Africa; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Uruguay
Vagrant:
Angola (Angola); Fiji; French Polynesia; Italy; Japan; Mauritius; Panama; Portugal; Réunion; United States
Present - origin uncertain:
Bouvet Island; Tonga
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In 1998, the total annual breeding population was estimated at 8,500 pairs, equivalent to c.28,000 mature individuals (Gales 1998). However, current estimates are 1,553 pairs on South Georgia (Georgias del Sur) (Poncet et al. 2006), 1,800 pairs on the Prince Edward Island (Ryan et al. 2009), c.2,056 pairs on Marion Island (R. Crawford in litt. 2010), c.340 pairs on Iles Crozet (CNRS Chinzè Monitoring Database 2010), c.354 pairs in Iles Kerguelen (CNRS Chinzè Monitoring Database 2011), and 4 pairs on Macquarie Island (DPIWPE 2010, unpublished data), making a total of c. 6,107 annual breeding pairs. Using the same ratio as Gales (1998) for estimating the number of mature individuals, this would equate to approximately 20,100 mature individuals.

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour Diomedea exulans is a biennial breeding species, although about 30% of successful and 35% of failed breeders (on average) defer breeding beyond the expected year. Adults return to colonies in November, and eggs are laid over a period of 5 weeks during December and January. Most eggs hatch in March, and chicks fledge in December. Birds usually return to colonies when 5-7 years old, though can return when as young as 3 years old. Birds can start breeding as young as 7 or 8 years old (ACAP 2009). Wandering Albatross typically forages in oceanic waters, however considerable time is spent over shelf areas during certain stages of the breeding season (BirdLife International 2004). Satellite tracking has revealed that juvenile birds tend to forage further north than adults (Weimerskirch et al. 2006, British Antarctic Survey unpublished data), bringing them into greater overlap with longline tuna fleets which may be driving falls in recruitment rates (Weimerskirch et al. 1997). Females may also be at greater risk of being caught in tuna fisheries since they tend to forage further north than males (Nel et al. 2002, Weimerskirch et al. 2003, Pinaud and Weimerskirch 2007) and show lower survival (Xavier et al. 2004). It is mostly a diurnal breeder, taking most prey by surface-seizing (ACAP 2009). Habitat Breeding Wandering Albatross nests in open or patchy vegetation near exposed ridges or hillocks (Carboneras 1992b). Diet Adults feed at sea mainly on cephalopods and fish, often following ships and feeding on offal and galley refuse (Carboneras 1992b, Cherel and Klages 1998). Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides is the primary fish species in the diet, potentially obtained as discarded offal (ACAP 2009). Foraging range This wide ranging species has a circumpolar distribution, and both breeding and non-breeding birds have very large foraging ranges. Satellite tracking data indicate that breeding birds forage at very long distances from colonies (up to 4,000 km) and that foraging strategies change throughout the breeding season (ACAP 2009). A recent fledgling covered 6,590km in 28 days after leaving the colony on Marion Island (Clokie 2007).

Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The observed decline of this species has been shown to be driven largely by incidental catch in fisheries, which has reduced adult survival and juvenile recruitment (Rolland et al. 2010). The vast foraging range means that birds encounter many different longline fleets (BirdLife International 2004). Fisheries were responsible for a 54% decrease in numbers on the Crozet Islands between 1970 and 1986 (Weimerskirch et al. 1997). The South Georgia population disperses throughout the Southern Ocean during the nonbreeding season, although may be most at risk from longline fisheries operating in the south-west Atlantic throughout the year, whereas the Crozet and Prince Edward Island populations are most vulnerable to pelagic longline fishing in the Indian Ocean and Australian region (Weimerskirch 1998, Nel et al. 2002c). The apparent recovery of populations from the Crozet and Prince Edward Islands during the early 1990s was ascribed to reduced fishing effort and relocation of fisheries away from foraging grounds, however increased effort in the late 1990s at various different localities may once again be impacting these populations (Weimerskirch et al. 1997, Nel et al. 2002b), as even low bycatch rates will affect the species due to the small population size (ACAP 2009). The Macquarie population was harvested extensively by sealers and, although it recovered in the early 20th century, experienced subsequent declines that were also attributed to longline fisheries (de la Mare and Kerry 1994). Chicks are vulnerable to the accumulation of anthropogenic debris and fishing hooks (Nel and Nel 1999). In 2007 a survey of Wandering Albatross chicks on Bird Island revealed that half had ingested fishing hooks (British Antarctic Survey unpublished data). On Kerguelen, in some years certain colonies have complete breeding failure owing to predation of young chicks by cats (H. Weimerskirch in litt. 2008). There has been extensive habitat loss and degradation at South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur) due to the activities of Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella (ACAP 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II and ACAP Annex 1. Population monitoring and foraging studies are being undertaken at South Georgia (Georgias del Sur), the Prince Edward Islands, Crozet, Kerguelen and Macquarie. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has introduced measures which have reduced bycatch of albatrosses around South Georgia by over 99%. Recently, other Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, including the tuna commissions, have taken initial steps to reduce seabird bycatch rates. The Prince Edward Islands are a special nature reserve and Macquarie is a World Heritage Site. Large parts of the breeding colonies on the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands are now part of a Nature Reserve. On Macquarie, cats have been eradicated (Quin 2008) and an operation targeting rabbits, rats, and mice commenced in winter 2010.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue population monitoring programs at all sites to allow assessment of population trends, survival and production rates. Continue tracking studies to determine spatial and temporal overlap with fisheries for populations and life stages where these data do not exist. Promote adoption of best-practice mitigation measures in all fisheries within the species's range, including via intergovernmental mechanisms such as ACAP, FAO and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations.


Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Diomedea exulans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 October 2014.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please fill in the feedback form so that we can correct or extend the information provided