Phoebetria palpebrata 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Procellariiformes Diomedeidae

Scientific Name: Phoebetria palpebrata (Forster, 1785)
Common Name(s):
English Light-mantled Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
French Albatros fuligineux
Taxonomic Source(s): Turbott, E.G. 1990. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.
Identification information: 80 cm. Small sooty brown albatross. Adult: sooty brown head, throat, wings and tail; rest of upperparts ash-grey; pale brownish-grey underparts; bill (105 mm) black with blue sulcus along lower mandible; juvenile: brown scalloping on neck and back; grey eye ring instead of white; and greyish-yellow line along lower bill. Similar spp. P. fusca is darker and has yellow line along lower bill. Voice Loud shrill call becoming trumpet-like e.g.. 'piew'/'pee-arr'/'pio'; threatening call a throaty 'gaaaa'; and bill snapping.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Alderman, R., Croxall, J., Debski, I., Delord, K., Phillips, R., Robertson, C., Ryan, P.G., Stahl, J.-C., Taylor, G.A. & Walker, K.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Anderson, O., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Moreno, R., Small, C., Sullivan, B., Symes, A.
This species is classified as Near Threatened as it may be declining owing to bycatch on longline fisheries and perhaps the impacts of introduced predators. Threats and population status both remain poorly known.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Phoebetria palpebrata has a circumpolar distribution in the Southern Ocean. It disperses over cold Antarctic waters in summer as far south as the pack ice (Weimerskirch and Robertson 1994, Phillips et al. 2005, Terauds and Gales 2006, Lawton et al. 2008, Mackley et al. 2010) but ranges north into temperate and sub-tropical seas in winter. It breeds on South Georgia (Georgias del Sur), Auckland, Campbell and Antipodes islands (New Zealand), Amsterdam, St Paul, Crozet and Kerguelen islands (French Southern Territories), Heard Island (Heard and MacDonald Islands (to Australia)), Macquarie Island (Australia), and Prince Edward and Marion islands (South Africa).

Countries occurrence:
Antarctica; Argentina; Australia; Chile; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); French Southern Territories; Heard Island and McDonald Islands; New Zealand; South Africa; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Brazil; French Polynesia; Mauritius
Present - origin uncertain:
Bouvet Island
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:100000000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:11-100Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Information on population status and trend is most well known on Macquarie Island and Possession Island (Crozet Islands). There are 1,850-2,450 pairs on Macquarie Island, c.1,949 pairs in the Crozet group, 5,000 pairs on South Georgia, 3,000-5,000 pairs on Kerguelen, c.5,000 pairs on the Auckland Islands, at least 1,600 pairs on Campbell Island, 170 pairs on the Antipodes Islands (Croxall and Gales 1998; Taylor 2000), 350 pairs on Marion Island, 129 pairs on Prince Edward Island (ACAP 2012) and 200-500 pairs reported at 1954 on Heard Island (Downes, et al. 1959). The total annual breeding population is estimated at 19,000-24,000 pairs, roughly equivalent to 58,000 mature individuals (and 87,000 individuals in total) in this biennially breeding species - Croxall and Gales (1998) estimated c. 21,600 pairs.

Trend Justification:  Population trends are poorly known. On Possession Island (Crozet), there has been a decline of 13% in 15 years (Weimerskirch and Jouventin 1998), though the population is now increasing (Delord et al. 2008). The small population on Marion Island appears to now be stable, following a decrease between 1997-2002 (Ryan et al. 2003), and may even be increasing (200 pairs in 1989, 350 pairs in 2007) (ACAP 2012). The small population on Prince Edward Island has seen a small increase from 2002-2009 (92-129 pairs) (ACAP 2012). The Macquarie Island population seems to have been slightly increasing over the last 22 years. Overall trends are uncertain as the majority of colonies have not been studied, but the species may be declining owing to bycatch on longline fisheries, plus perhaps the impacts of introduced predators at some sites; a moderately rapid population decline is precautionarily suspected to be taking place over 100 years.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:58000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:6Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Behaviour This species is a biennial breeder usually nesting solitarily or in small colonies. Most eggs are laid in October-November, hatch in December-January and chicks fledge in May-June (Croxall and Gales 1998). Egg laying is highly synchronous within each colony. Young birds are philopatric, returning to their natal colonies after 7 to 12 years (ACAP 2009). Breeding birds from Macquarie Island typically forage in shelf waters around the island; they also utilise sub-Antarctic and Antarctic waters south-west of Macquarie (BirdLife International 2004). During chick-rearing, adults from South Georgia feed in Antarctic shelf and shelf-slope areas along the southern Scotia Arc and to a lesser extent in oceanic waters in the mid Scotia Sea (Phillips et al. 2005). It employs a variety of feeding strategies, including surface-seizing, surface filtering and plunging. Habitat Breeding It nests on cliff ledges, on a pedestal nest of mud and peat, lined with grass. Diet The diet is primarily composed of cephalopods and euphausiids, but birds also take fish and carrion (Thomas 1982, Cooper and Klages 1995). Foraging range Satellite-tracked incubating birds from Macquarie Island foraged south of the Antarctic Polar Front, an average of 1,500 km from their breeding sites. Four breeding birds from South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur) followed a typical flight path (38 trips) involving a clockwise route to and from high latitude waters along the southern Scotia Arc, on average travelling 3,800 km, to a maximum range of 920 km from the colony (for further information see Weimerskirch and Robertson 1994, Phillips et al. 2005, Terauds and Gales 2006, Lawton et al. 2008, Mackley et al. 2010).

Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):44
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Reports from New Zealand, Australia and Japan indicate that it is caught in tuna longline fisheries (39 returned from observers in New Zealand fisheries in 1996-2005) (C. J. R. Robertson in litt. 2008), although data on bycatch are sparse compared to other albatross species. Introduced predators have been eradicated from most New Zealand colonies. Cats affect breeding success on the Kerguelen Islands (ACAP 2009). Vegetation and slope degradation due to rabbit grazing on Macquarie caused landslips, increased exposure to elements and predators, and is likely to have reduced breeding success. However with the eradication of rabbits, nesting habitat is rapidly recovering and impact is diminishing.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II and ACAP Annex 1.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct standardised population surveys at all key sites. Determine foraging distribution and overlap with fisheries. As a precaution, eradicate introduced predators at breeding sites.

Amended [top]

Amended reason: Map revised. Edited: Geographic Range, Population Justification, Trend Justification, Habitats and Ecology, Threats and Research Needed. Added references and also added new Contributors and Compiler.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Phoebetria palpebrata (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22698448A111243698. . Downloaded on 26 September 2018.
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