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Diomedea dabbenena 

Scope: Global
Language: English
Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_onStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Procellariiformes Diomedeidae

Scientific Name: Diomedea dabbenena
Species Authority: Mathews, 1929
Common Name(s):
English Tristan Albatross
Synonym(s):
Diomedea chionoptera ssp. chionoptera Mathews, 1929 — Robertson and Nunn (1998)
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 110 cm. Huge albatross, very similar in plumage to Wandering Albatross D.exulans. Probably indistinguishable in field, but plumage generally darker. Separated by smaller size (e.g. bill c. 25 mm shorter) (Neves et al. 2000) and slower acquisition of white adult plumage, never attaining very white plumage of old male D. exulans.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A4ade ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Bond, A., Cooper, J., Croxall, J., Cuthbert, R., Hilton, G., Ryan, P.G. & Wanless, R.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Anderson, O., Ashpole, J, Calvert, R., Mahood, S., Martin, R, McClellan, R., Moreno, R., Nel, D., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A., Sullivan, B., Symes, A., Taylor, J.
Justification:
This species qualifies as Critically Endangered owing to its extremely small breeding range and a projected extremely rapid population decline over three generations (70 years). Modelled population declines are a consequence of very low adult survival owing to incidental mortality in longline fisheries, compounded by low fledging success caused by predation of chicks by introduced mice.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Diomedea dabbenena breeding populations are essentially restricted to Gough Island, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena (to UK), having become extinct on Tristan (although birds were seen prospecting in 1999 [Ryan et al. 2001]), and 2-3 pairs breed annually on Inaccessible Island (McClelland et al. 2016). Using consecutive annual accounts of incubating adults and a population model the population has been estimated at c. 1,700 breeding pairs, giving a total global population of 7,100 individuals (ACAP 2010). Recent counts suggest that the population on Gough has decreased by 28% over 46 years, and at 3% annually between 2000 and 2011 (Cuthbert et al. 2014), and by nearly 50% between 2001-2016 (0-8% decline per year; RSPB and UCT unpubl. data) in line with population modelling predictions of annual decline rates of 2.9-5.3% (Ryan et al. 2001, Wanless et al. 2009), equivalent to declines of >96% in three generations. Predation of chicks by mice has led to very low breeding success; between 2000 and 2015 this averaged only 27%, less than half that of other studied Diomedea colonies (Cuthbert et al. 2003, Cuthbert and Hilton 2004, Wanless et al. 2007, Cuthbert et al. 2014, Davies et al. 2015).  Breeding success in 2014 was just 9.6%, the lowest recorded since counts started in 2001 (Davies et al. 2015). Outside the breeding season, it disperses to the western South Atlantic in summer, moves eastwards to South African waters and, northwards along the African Atlantic coast as far as southern Angola  (Reid et al. 2013) . Up to 15% migrate across the Indian Ocean to southern Australian waters (Reid et al. 2013).

Countries occurrence:
Native:
Angola (Angola); Argentina; Brazil; Namibia; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (Tristan da Cunha); South Africa; Uruguay
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:80Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:54900000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):400
Upper elevation limit (metres):700
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:

Breeding populations are essentially restricted to Gough Island, with 2-3 pairs nesting intermittently on Inaccessible Island (McClelland et al. 2016). The annual breeding population is currently estimated to be 1,250-1,750 pairs annually (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and University of Cape Town unpubl. data), equivalent to a total population of 5200-7300 individuals for this biennially breeding species (RSPB and UCT unpubl. data). This roughly equates to 3,400-4,800 mature individuals.



Trend Justification:  Recent counts suggest that the population on Gough has decreased by 28% over 46 years, and at 3-5% annually between 2000 and 2016 (Cuthbert et al. 2014, RSPB and UCT unpubl. data), which is in line with population modelling predicting annual rates of decline of 2.9-5.3% (Ryan et al. 2001, Wanless et al. 2009). More recent population modelling, conducted over three generations since 1980, suggests a decline equivalent to a 96% reduction in population size over three generations, since declines began (BirdLife International unpubl. data). The rate of on-going decline is therefore placed here in the band 80-100% over three generations (86 years).

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:3400-4800Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:2Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Behaviour It is a colonial, biennially breeding species. Adults return in November and December, lay in January and the chicks fledge in November. Immature birds begin returning to their breeding colony at 3-7 years after fledging. Vast majority of D. dabbenena recruit in their natal colony, at a mean age of 10 years (range 4-20 years) (ACAP 2009). The oldest recorded bird was at least 38 years old (Ryan 2009). It catches prey by surface-seizing, and the prevalence of a bioluminescent group of cephalopods in one dietary study suggests that D. dabbenena often feed at night (ACAP 2009). During the breeding season the length and range of foraging trips varies considerably, depending on the stage of the breeding cycle (BirdLife International 2004, Cuthbert et al. 2005). Habitat Breeding It nests at 400-700 m (rarely to 300 m) (Ryan and Glass 2001, Davies et al. 2015), primarily in wet heath where it is open enough for take-off and landings. Diet It feeds on cephalopods and fish (J. Cooper in litt. 1999), and probably follows ships and trawlers for offal and galley refuse.

Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):28.7
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

On Inaccessible Island, its decline was probably due to predation by feral pigs (now absent) and humans (Fraser et al. 1988, Ryan et al. 1990). The failure to recover is unclear, but may be because young birds become entangled in thick vegetation (Ryan et al. 1990, P. G. Ryan in litt. 1999), or there is a high mortality in long-line fisheries. On Tristan, its extirpation was probably the result of human exploitation (Hagen 1952), although predation by rats (and possibly mice) may have been a factor (Fraser et al. 1988). On Gough, predation by the introduced house mouse Mus musculus causes very low breeding success and alone is sufficient to drive a population decline of over 50% over three generations (Cuthbert et al. 2003, Cuthbert and Hilton 2004, Wanless et al. 2007, Davies et al. 2015). Mouse attacks on chicks peaked in May-June at the start of the austral winter. All predation took place at night, usually 1-2 mice were recorded attacking the chick, with death occurring 3.9 ±1.2 days after the first attack (Davies et al. 2015). An additional threat on Gough is peat slips caused by storms burying and killing nestlings and adults, although this is probably a very rare event (Ryan 1993).

Another major threat comes from interactions with longline fisheries, with a high proportion of "Wandering" Albatross bycatch in southern Brazilian waters being of this species (Neves et al. 2000, Olmos et al. 2000), including a few birds banded at Gough (Croxall and Gales 1998, J. Cooper in litt. 1999). It has been estimated that c. 500 individuals of this species are killed every year by longliners (Goren and Ryan 2010). Satellite tracking of breeding birds indicates considerable overlap between birds and areas of longline fishing (Cuthbert et al. 2005), A study of great albatross bycatch from Uruguayan and Japanese longline fisheries in the south-west Atlantic off Uruguay found most Tristan albatross bycatch occurred between September and November in pelagic waters where many other fleets operate (Jiménez et al. 2014). Together, the dual threats of mice and bycatch give a worst-case scenario of extinction in roughly 30 years, although the true situation is likely a continued and severe decline (Wanless et al. 2009). 

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Conservation Actions Underway
ACAP Annex 1. On Tristan, a programme to eradicate cats was successful in the 1970s. Gough and Inaccessible are nature reserves and a World Heritage Site. Both islands are uninhabited, apart from a meteorological station on Gough (Tristan da Cunha Government and RSPB 2016). Satellite tracking to determine foraging areas during the breeding season was undertaken in 2000-2001 (Cuthbert et al. 2003). Censuses of large chicks and/or incubating adults were carried out during 1999-2016, and a monitoring protocol was devised (Cuthbert and Sommer 2004). Satellite tracking of non-breeders, further monitoring and demographic work, and an investigation of mouse predation on chicks was initiated in 2003. It is technically feasible to eradicate mice from Gough Island (Parkes 2008, Cuthbert et al. 2011a, b; RSPB unpubl. data). In September 2013 a trial drop of non-toxic bait over the vegetated cliffs of Gough showed that around 80% of the bait was retained on the cliffs and would be accessible to mice living there (Cuthbert et al. 2011a). Since 2007, birds have been marked with field-readable plastic leg rings, and by 2016, >1000 individuals had been ringed (RSPB and UCT unpubl. data).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Eradicate mice on Gough Island as soon as possible. Annually survey numbers and assess breeding success on Gough. Continue research of at-sea distribution and foraging behaviour, particularly of non-breeding birds. Promote adoption of best-practice mitigation measures in all fisheries within the species' range, particularly via intergovernmental mechanisms such as ACAP, FAO and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations. 

Amended [top]

Amended reason: Map revised. Edited: Geographic Range, Population Justification, Habitat and Ecology, Threats, Conservation Actions proposed, Underway and in Place, Important Conservation Actions Needed and Research Needed. The estimated number of mature individual were altered. Added references and also added a new Contributors and a new Facilitator.

Classifications [top]

10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.2. Marine Oceanic - Mesopelagic (200-1000m)
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.2. Marine Oceanic - Mesopelagic (200-1000m)
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
10. Marine Oceanic -> 10.1. Marine Oceanic - Epipelagic (0-200m)
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.9. Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.7. Marine Neritic - Macroalgal/Kelp
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.7. Marine Neritic - Macroalgal/Kelp
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.3. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.3. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.2. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.2. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:No
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.1. Marine Neritic - Pelagic
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.2. Invasive/problematic species control
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.1. International level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Very Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:High Impact: 8 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Sus domesticus ]
♦ timing:Past, Likely to Return ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Mus musculus ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:High Impact: 8 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

ACAP. 2009. ACAP Species Assessment: Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena. Available at: #http://www.acap.aq/acap-species/download-document/1206-tristan-albatross#.

BirdLife International. 2004. Tracking ocean wanderers: the global distribution of albatrosses and petrels. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Cooper, J.; Ryan, P. G. 1994. Management plan for the Gough Island Wildlife Reserve. Government of Tristan da Cunha, Edinburgh, Tristan da Cunha.

Croxall, J. P. and Gales, R. 1998. Assessment of the conservation status of albatrosses. In: Robertson, G. and Gales, R. (eds), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 46-65. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.

Cuthbert, R. and Sommer, S. E. 2004. Gough Island bird monitoring manual. RSPB Research Report.

Cuthbert, R.; Hilton, G. 2004. Introduced house mice Mus musculus: a significant predator of threatened and endemic birds on Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean? Biological Conservation 117: 483-489.

Cuthbert, R.; Hilton, G.; Ryan, P.; Tuck, G.N. 2005. At-sea distribution of breeding Tristan albatrosses Diomedea dabbenena and potential interactions with pelagic longline fishing in the South Atlantic Ocean. Biological Conservation 121: 345-355.

Cuthbert, R.J., Cooper, J., Ryan, P.G. 2014. Population trends and breeding success of albatrosses and giant petrels at Gough Island in the face of at-sea and on-land threats. Antarctic Science 26(2): 163-171.

Cuthbert, R. J., P. Visser, H. Louw, Ryan, P. G. 2011b. Palatability and efficacy of rodent baits for eradicating house mice (Mus musculus) from Gough Island, Tristan da Cunha. Wildlife Research 38: 196-203.

Cuthbert, R. J., Visser, P., Louw, H., Rexer-Huber, K., Parker, G. and Ryan, P. G. 2011. Preparations for the eradication of mice from Gough Island: results of bait acceptance trials above ground and around cave systems. In: C.R. Veitch, M.N. Clout, and D.R. Towns (eds), Island invasives: eradication and management, pp. 47-50. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Cuthbert, R.; Ryan, P. G.; Cooper, J.; Hilton, G. 2003. Demography and population trends of the Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross. Condor 105: 439-452.

Davies, D., Dilley, B.J., Bond, A.L., Cuthbert, R.J. and Ryan, P.G. 2015. Trends and tactics of mouse predation on Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena chicks at Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean. Avian Conservation and Ecology 10(1): 5.

Fraser, M. W.; Ryan, P. G.; Watkins, B. P. 1988. The seabirds of Inaccessible Island, South Atlantic Ocean. Cormorant 16: 7-33.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org.

Jimenez, S., Phillips, R.A., Brazeiro, A., Defeo, O. and Domingo, A. 2014. Bycatch of great albatrosses in pelagic longline fisheries in the southwest Atlantic: contributing factors and implications for management. Biological Conservation 171: 9-20.

McClelland, G. T. W., A. L. Bond, A. Sardana, Glass, T. 2016. Rapid population estimate of a surface-nesting seabird on a remote island using a low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle. Marine Ornithology 44: 215-220.

Neves, T, Vooren, C. M., Bastos, G. 2000. Proportions of Tristan and Wandering Albatrosses in incidental captures off the Brazilian coast. Marine Ornithology 28(2).

Olmos, F.; Bastos, G. C. C.; da Silva Neves, T. 2000. Estimating seabird bycatch in Brazil. Marine Ornithology 28(2).

Parkes, J. 2008. A feasibility study for the eradication of house mice from Gough Island. RSPB Research Report No.34. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Sandy, UK.

Reid, T. A., R. M. Wanless, G. M. Hilton, R. A. Phillips, P. G. Ryan. 2013. Foraging range and habitat associations of non‑breeding Tristan albatrosses: overlap with fisheries and implications for conservation. Endangered Species Research 22: 39-49.

Ryan, P. 2009. Sign of the times for Tristan Albatrosses. Africa - Birds & Birding 14(3): 12.

Ryan, P. 2013. Tackling mice on Gough. African Birdlife 2(1): 10-11.

Ryan, P. G. 1993. The ecological consequences of an exceptional rainfall event at Gough. South African Journal of Science 89: 309-311.

Ryan, P. G.; Cooper, J.; Glass, J. P. 2001. Population status, breeding biology and conservation of the Tristan Albatross Diomedea [exulans] dabbenena. Bird Conservation International 11: 35-48.

Ryan, P. G.; Dean, W. R. J.; Moloney, C. L.; Watkins, B. P.; Milton, S. J. 1990. New information on seabirds at Inaccessible Island and other islands in the Tristan da Cunha group. Marine Ornithology 18: 43-54.

Tristan da Cunha Government, and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 2016. Gough and Inaccessible World Heritage Site Management Plan. April 2015-March 2020. Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha.

Wanless, R. M.; Angel, A.; Cuthbert, R. J.; Hilton, G. M.; Ryan, P. G. 2007. Can predation by invasive mice drive seabird extinctions? Biology Letters 3: 241-244.

Wanless, R. M.; Ryan, P. G.; Altwegg, R.; Angel, A.; Cooper, J.; Cuthbert, R.; Hilton, G. M. 2009. From both sides: dire demographic consequences of carnivorous mice and longlining for the critically endangered Tristan Albatrosses on Gough Island. Biological Conservation 142: 1710-1718.


Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Diomedea dabbenena. (amended version published in 2016) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22728364A111143392. . Downloaded on 29 June 2017.
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