Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

Population and survival trends of Wandering Albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) breeding on Macquarie Island

Aleks Terauds A B , Rosemary Gales B , G. Barry Baker C D and Rachael Alderman B

A University of Tasmania, Churchill Avenue, Sandy Bay, Tas. 7005, Australia.

B Biodiversity Conservation Branch, Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, PO Box 44, Hobart, Tas. 7000, Australia.

C Australian Antarctic Division, Channel Highway, Kingston, Tas. 7050, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: barry.baker@aad.gov.au

Emu 106(3) 211-218 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MU06007
Submitted: 30 January 2006  Accepted: 11 July 2006   Published: 18 August 2006


Wandering Albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) are globally threatened owing to declines in populations, and the breeding population of Macquarie Island is particularly vulnerable as it comprises fewer than 20 breeding pairs. We describe population trends of Macquarie Island Wandering Albatrosses between 1955 and 2004, combining long-term population data with demographic data collected between 1995 and 2004. Rates of annual breeding effort and survival varied markedly over time and breeding numbers declined from a peak in 1968 to near extinction in the mid-1980s. Underlying this decline was a significant decrease in juvenile survival and, to a lesser extent, adult survival. These changes in survival coincided with changes in long-line fishing effort in the Southern Ocean. Breeding numbers slowly recovered on Macquarie Island through the late 1980s and 1990s, reaching a total of 19 breeding pairs in the mid-1990s. The population remained at about this level in 2004. Relative trends in numbers and survival in the population are similar to those observed in other populations in the Indian Ocean, including Marion Island and Iles Crozet.


Akaike H. (1973). Information theory as an extension of the maximum likelihood principle. In ‘Second International Symposium on Information Theory’. (Eds B. N. Petrov and F. Csaki.) pp. 267–281. (Akademiai Kiado: Budapest.)

Ashford J. R. Croxall J. P. Rubilar P. S. Moreno C. A. 1995 Seabird interaction with longlining operations for Dissostichus eleginoides around South Georgia, April to May 1994. CCAMLR Science 2 111 121

Baker G. B. Gales R. Hamilton S. Wilkinson V. 2002 Albatrosses and petrels in Australia: a review of their conservation and management. Emu 102 71 97

Brooke M. (2004). ‘Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World.’ (Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK.)

Brothers N. 1991 Albatross mortality and associated bait loss in the Japanese long line fishery in the Southern Ocean. Biological Conservation 55 255 268 DOI

Brothers N. P., Cooper J., and Loekkeborg S. (1999). The incidental catch of seabirds by longline fisheries: worldwide review and technical guidelines for mitigation. Food and Agricultural Organisation Fisheries Circular 97, Food and Agricultural Organisation, Rome.

Burnham K. P., and Anderson D. J. (1998). ‘Model Selection and Inference: A Practical Information-theoretic Approach.’ (Springer-Verlag: New York.)

Burnham K. P. White G. C. Anderson D. R. 1995 Model selection strategy in the analysis of capture recapture data. Biometrics 51 888 898 DOI

Carrick R., and Ingham S. E. (1970). Ecology and population dynamics of Antarctic seabirds. In ‘Antarctic Ecology’. (Ed. M. W. Holdgate.) pp. 502–525. (Academic Press: New York.)

Cormack R. M. 1964 Estimates of survival from the sightings of marked animals. Biometrika 51 429 438 DOI

Croxall J. P., and Gales R. (1998). An assessment of the conservation status of albatrosses. In ‘Albatross Biology and Conservation’. (Eds G. Robertson and R. Gales). pp. 46–66. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Croxall J. P. Rothery P. Pickering S. P. C. Prince P. A. 1990 Reproductive performance, recruitment and survival of Wandering Albatrosses Diomedea exulans at Bird Island, South Georgia. Journal of Animal Ecology 59 775 796 DOI

Croxall J. P., Prince P. A., Rothery P., and Wood A. G. (1998). Population changes in albatrosses at South Georgia. In ‘Albatross Biology and Conservation’. (Eds G. Robertson and R. Gales.) pp. 69–83. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

de la Mare W. K. Kerry K. R. 1994 Population dynamics of the wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) on Macquarie Island and the effects of mortality from longline fishing. Polar Biology 14 231 241

Gales R. (1998). Albatross populations: status and threats. In ‘Albatross Biology and Conservation’. (Eds G. Robertson and R. Gales.) pp. 20–45. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Gales R. Brothers N. Reid T. 1998 Seabird mortality in the Japanese tuna longline fishery around Australia, 1988–1995. Biological Conservation 86 37 56

Inchausti P. Weimerskirch H. 2001 Risks of decline and extinction of the endangered Amsterdam albatross and the projected impact of long-line fisheries. Biological Conservation 100 377 386 DOI

Inchausti P. Weimerskirch H. 2002 Dispersal and metapopulation dynamics of an oceanic seabird, the Wandering Albatross, and its consequences for its response to long-line fisheries. Journal of Animal Ecology 71 765 770 DOI

Johnstone G. W. (1982). Zoology. In ‘Expedition to the Australian Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands 1980’. Department of National Development and Energy, Division of Mapping Technical Report 31. (Eds C. Veenstra and J. Manning.) pp. 32–39. (Department of National Development and Energy: Canberra.)

Jolly G. M. 1965 Explicit estimates from capture-recapture data with both death and emmigration-stochastic model. Biometrika 52 225 247 DOI

Lack D. (1968). ‘Ecological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds.’ (Methuen and Co.: London.)

Lebreton J. D. Burnham K. P. Clobert J. Anderson D. R. 1992 Modelling survival and testing biological hypotheses using marked animals, a unified approach with case studies. Ecological Monographs 62 67 118 DOI

Moloney C. L. Cooper J. Ryan P. G. Siegfried W. R. 1994 Use of a population model to assess the impact of longline fishing on Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans populations. Biological Conservation 70 195 203 DOI

Murray T. E. Bartle J. A. Kalish S. R. Taylor P. R. 1993 Incidental capture of seabirds by Japanese southern bluefin tuna long line vessels in New Zealand waters, 1988–1992. Bird Conservation International 3 181 210

Nel D. C. Ryan P. G. Crawford R. J. M. Cooper J. Huyser O. 2002 Population trends of albatrosses and petrels at sub-antarctic Marion Island. Polar Biology 25 81 89

Prince P. A. Rothery P. Croxall J. P. Wood A. G. 1994 Population dynamics of Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses Diomedea melanophrys and D. chrysostoma at Bird Island, South Georgia. Ibis 136 50 71

Polacheck T. Klaer N. 1997 By-catch of albatrosses and other seabirds by Japanese longline fishing vessels in the Australian Fishing Zone from April 1992 to March 1995. Emu 97 150 167

Rothery P. Prince P. A. 1990 Survival and breeding frequency in albatrosses. Ring 13 61 74

Ryan P. G. Boix-Hinzen C. 1999 Consistent male-biased seabird mortality in the Patagonian toothfish longline fishery. Auk 116 851 854

Sagar P. M. Stahl J. 2005 Increases in the numbers of breeding pairs in two populations of Buller’s Albatross (Thalassarche bulleri bulleri). Emu 105 49 55

Seber G. A. F. 1965 A note on the multiple re-capture census. Biometrika 52 249 259 DOI

Terauds A. Gales R. Alderman R. 2005 Trends in numbers and survival of Black-browed (Thalassarche melanophrys) and Grey-headed (T. chrysostoma) Albatrosses breeding on Macquarie Island. Emu 105 159 167 DOI

Tomkins R. J. 1985 Reproduction and mortality of Wandering Albatrosses on Macquarie Island. Emu 85 40 42

Tuck G. N. Polacheck T. Croxall J. P. Weimerskirch H. 2001 Modelling the impact of fishery by-catches on albatross populations. Journal of Applied Ecology 38 1182 1196

Tuck G. N. Polacheck T. Bulman C. M. 2003 Spatio-temporal trends of longline fishing effort in the southern ocean and implications for seabird bycatch. Biological Conservation 114 1 27 DOI

Tuck G. N., Polacheck T., Croxall J. P., Weimerskirch H., Ryan P., Nel D., Wayte S., and Bulman C. M. (2004). Modelling the impact of fishery incidental mortality of three populations of wandering albatross. In ‘A Comprehensive Study of the Ecological Impacts of the Worldwide Pelagic Longline Industry: Southern Hemisphere Studies’. (Ed. G. N. Tuck.) pp. 149–223. (CSIRO Marine Research: Hobart.)

Walker K. Elliott G. 1999 Population changes and biology of the Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans gibsoni at the Auckland Islands. Emu 99 239 247 DOI

Waugh S. M. Weimerskirch H. Moore P. J. Sagar P. M. 1999 Population dynamics of Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses Diomedea melanophrys and D. chrysostoma at Campbell Island, New Zealand, 1942–96. Ibis 141 216 225

Weimerskirch H. Jouventin P. 1987 Population dynamics of the Wandering Albatross, Diomedea exulans, of the Crozet Islands: causes and consequences of the population decline. Oikos 49 315 322

Weimerskirch H., and Jouventin P. (1998). Changes in population sizes and demographic parameters of six albatross species breeding on the French sub-Antarctic islands. In ‘Albatross Biology and Conservation’. (Eds G. Robertson and R. Gales.) pp. 84–91. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Weimerskirch H. Brothers N. Jouventin P. 1997 Population dynamics of Wandering Albatross Diomedea exulans and Amsterdam Albatross D. amsterdamensis in the Indian Ocean and their relationships with long-line fisheries – conservation implications. Biological Conservation 79 257 270

White G. C. Burnham K. P. 1999 Program MARK: survival estimation from populations of marked animals. Bird Study 46 Supplement S 120 139

Export Citation Cited By (8)