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Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma
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Justification
This species has been uplisted to Endangered as data from some major colonies, in particular South Georgia (Georgias del Sur), which holds around half the global population, suggest that overall declines are taking place at a very rapid rate over three generations (90 years), even if colonies lacking trend information are assumed to be stable. The major driver of declines is likely to be incidental mortality on longline fisheries.

Taxonomic source(s)
Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Robertson, C. J. R.; Nunn, G. B. 1998. Towards a new taxonomy for albatrosses. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, R. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 13-19. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~Remsen/SACCBaseline.html#.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Synonym(s)
Diomedea chrysostoma Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993), Diomedea chrysostoma Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Diomedea chrysostoma Stotz et al. (1996), Diomedea chrysostoma Christidis and Boles (1994), Diomedea chrysostoma Turbott (1990), Diomedea chrysostoma Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994), Diomedea chrysostoma Collar et al. (1994)

Identification
81 cm. Small albatross with dark ashy-grey head, throat and upper neck. Blackish upper wings, mantle and tail. White rump. White crescent behind eye. Black bill with bright yellow upper and lower ridges, shading to pink-orange at tip. White underparts. White underwing with much black on leading edge, less on trailing edge. Immature has mostly black bill and head, nape darker than adult, indistinct white eye-crescent, virtually no white on underwing. Similar spp. Underwing pattern distinguishes it from Buller's Albatross T. bulleri (which has more yellow on bill), yellow-nosed species, and Shy Albatross T. cauta, Chatham Albatross T. eremita and Salvin's Albatross T. salvini. Immatures difficult.

Distribution and population
Thalassarche chrysostoma has a circumpolar distribution over cold subantarctic and Antarctic waters (ACAP 2009). It breeds on South Georgia (Georgias del Sur), Islas Diego Ramirez and Ildefonso (Chile), Prince Edward and Marion Islands (South Africa), Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands (French Southern Territories), Campbell Island (New Zealand) and Macquarie Island (Australia). The annual breeding population is c.95,000 pairs, equivalent to a total population of c.250,000 mature individuals in this biennially breeding bird (Croxall and Gales 1998, Brooke 2004). Approximately half the global population occurs on South Georgia (ACAP 2009). Its range at sea while breeding lies largely within or south of the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone (Prince et al. 1998, Phillips et al. 2004). During the non-breeding season South Georgia birds have been recorded making one or more global circumnavigations, the fastest in just 46 days (Croxall et al. 2005). All New Zealand banded birds have been recovered west of New Zealand in Australian zone (G. Taylor in litt. 2008). At South Georgia, the population is estimated to have declined by 25% between 1977 and 2004 (Poncet et al. 2006; R. Phillips verbally 2012), while on Campbell Island the population underwent major declines prior to 1997 but has apparently since stabilised (W. Misiak in litt. 2013). Population trends are unknown for Chile, Iles Kerguelen and Iles Crozet (representing around one third of the global population), and increasing on Marion Island (ACAP 2012). Very rapid overall declines appear to be taking place even if it is assumed colonies without trend information have remained stable.


Population justification
There are an estimated c.95,000 pairs breeding per year of this biennially breeding species, based on annual breeding population estimates of 47,674 pairs on South Georgia in 2004 (Poncet et al. 2006), 17,187 pairs in Chile in 2003 (Robertson et al. 2007), 7,905 pairs on Kerguelen in 1985 (Weimerskirch et al. 1988), 7,800 pairs on Campbell Island (Moore 2004), 6,709 pairs on Marion Island in 2013 (ACAP unpubl. data), 5,946 on Crozet in 1982 (Jouventin et al. 1984), 2,000 pairs on Prince Edward Island in 2009 (Ryan et al. 2009) and 69 pairs on Macquarie Island in 2013 (ACAP unpubl. data). This is thought to be equivalent to at least 250,000 mature individuals (Croxall and Gales 1998, Brooke 2004).

Trend justification
At South Georgia, the population is estimated to have declined by 25% between 1977 and 2004 (Poncet et al. 2006; R. Phillips verbally 2012), which equates to a projected decline of 85% if declines continued at this rate over three generations. On Campbell Island, data from 2004 suggest that the population declined by over 75% between 1940 – 2004 (Moore 2004; Nel et al. 2002), which would equate to a 95% decline over three generations. However, recent unpublished information suggests that this population underwent a major decline until 1997 but has since stabilised (W. Misiak in litt. 2013). Population trends are unknown for Chile, Iles Kerguelen and Iles Crozet (representing around one third of the global population). Also, in contrast to South Georgia and Campbell Island, the population on Marion Island has reported a 1.2% annual population increase from 1988-2011 (ACAP 2012). Combining these data (see attached spreadsheet), even if the Chilean, Iles Kerguelen and Iles Crozet colonies are assumed to be stable, the data from South Georgia and Campbell Island result in a projected global population decline of 65.4% over three generations. Given the uncertainty around these estimates, particularly the likely future trends, and the long trend period, a decline of 50-79% over 90 years is provisionally estimated.

Ecology
Behaviour This species is a biennial breeder, although 5.4% and 1% of successful breeders on Marion Island and Bird Island respectively, attempt to breed annually. Birds return to colonies between late September and early October, laying occurs in October and chicks hatch by December. Chicks fledge from April to May, returning to breeding colonies at the earliest at three years of age but generally at six or seven years old. First breeding can begin as early as seven years, but the average age on Campbell Island is 13.5 years old and the modal age on South Georgia is 12 years old. It feeds by surface-seizing but can also dive up to depths of six metres (ACAP 2009). Substantial segregation in foraging areas is apparent for male and female Grey-headed Albatross during incubation at South Georgia, with males travelling on average further than females (Phillips et al. 2004). At Iles Kerguelen, Campbell Island and South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur), the species is principally an oceanic forager, concentrating in the Antarctic Polar Frontal Zone and associated oceanic upwellings. However, in years of low availability, chick-rearing birds from South Georgia (Islas Georgias del Sur) forage mainly in Antarctic shelf-slope waters around the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. Prey biogeography also indicates some neritic foraging around Iles Kerguelen and Campbell Island during chick rearing (ACAP 2009). On Marion Island, incubating birds foraged in the Sub-tropical Frontal Zone and the Subantarctic Zone in association with what are most likely eddies. In contrast, during chick rearing, foraging was concentrated in the Subantarctic and Polar Frontal Zones to the south-west of the island, also in association with eddies (Nel et al. 2000, Nel et al. 2001). Habitat Breeding It breeds on steep slopes or cliffs, generally with tussock-grass. Diet Its diet is variable with locality and year (ACAP 2009). It feeds mainly on cephalopods and fish, but crustaceans, carrion and lampreys are locally important (Prince 1980, Cherel et al. 2002, Xavier et al. 2003, Arata et al. 2004). It actively scavenges longline baits.

Threats
As this species generally forages over oceanic waters it is less likely to encounter longline fisheries targeting Patagonian toothfish in shelf areas, although mortality of breeding birds is still recorded in these fisheries (ACAP 2009). In Australian waters, up to c.400 individuals (>80% juvenile) were killed annually in 1989-1995 by Japanese longliners (Gales et al. 1998). In the Indian Ocean, illegal or unregulated fishing for Patagonian toothfish Dissostichus eleginoides killed an estimated 10,000-20,000 albatrosses (mainly this species) in 1997 and 1998 (CCAMLR 1997, CCAMLR 1998). At Campbell, the long-term decline, which began well before local longline fishery development, appears to be caused by environmental factors, possibly rising sea-surface temperatures resulting in food shortages, but longline fisheries beyond the New Zealand Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) may also contribute (Waugh et al. 1999). The species is not caught on fishing vessels monitored by New Zealand observers within the EEZ (G. Taylor in litt. 2008). Outside of EEZs, due to its circumpolar distribution, T. chrysostoma is potentially vulnerable to Southern Ocean pelagic fisheries worldwide. The extensive use of the Subtropical Convergence and Sub-Antarctic Zones by incubating birds from Marion Island, especially females, bring them into contact with intense southern bluefin tuna Thunnus maccoyii longline fishing activity in international waters (40-45°) (ACAP 2009).

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II and ACAP Annex 1. Population monitoring and foraging studies are being undertaken at South Georgia, Diego Ramirez, Marion, Macquarie and Campbell Islands. Macquarie and Campbell are World Heritage Sites and the Prince Edward Islands are a Special Nature Reserve. Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue existing monitoring and commence at poorly-known sites (Environment Australia 1999). Determine migration patterns in off seasons from other populations and overlap with fisheries, particularly those operating in the southern Indian Ocean. Promote adoption of best-practice mitigation measures in all fisheries within the species's range, particularly via intergovernmental mechanisms such as ACAP, CCAMLR and FAO.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

References
ACAP. 2009. ACAP Species Assessment: Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma. Available at: http://www.acap.aq/acap-species/download-document/1212-grey-headed-albatross#http://www.acap.aq/acap-species/download-document/1212-grey-headed-albatross#.

Arata, J.; Moreno, C. A. 2002. Progress report of Chilean research on albatross ecology and conservation. CCAMLR-WG-FSA-02/18.

Arata, J.; Robertson, G.; Valencia, J.; Xavier, J. C.; Moreno, C. A. 2004. Diet of Grey-headed Albatrosses at Diego Ramirez Islands, Chile: ecological implications. Antarctic Science 16: 263-275.

Brooke, M. De L. 2004. Albatrosses and petrels across the world. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

CCAMLR. 1997. Report of the XVI meeting of the Scientific Committee.

CCAMLR. 1998. Report of the XVII meeting of the Scientific Committee.

Cherel, Y.; Weimerskirch, H.; Trouve, C. 21002. Dietary evidence for spatial foraging segregation in sympatric albatrosses (Diomedea spp.) rearing chicks at Iles Nuageuses, Kerguelen. Marine Biology 141: 1117-1129.

Converse, S. J.; Kendall, W. L.; Doherty, P. F., Jr.; Ryan, P. G. 2009. Multistate models for estimation of survival and reproduction in the Grey-headed Albatross (Thalassarche chrysostoma). The Auk 126(1): 77-88.

Crawford, R. J. M.; Cooper, J.; Dyer, B. M.; Greyling, M.; Klages, N. T. W.; Ryan, P. G.; Petersen, S.; Underhill, L. G.; Upfold, L.; Wilkinson, W.; de Villiers, M.; du Plessis, S.; du Toit, M.; Leshoro, T. M.;…authors continued in notes. 2003. Populations of surface nesting seabirds at Marion Island, 1994/95-2002/03. African Journal of Marine Science 25: 427-440.

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

Croxall, J. P.; Prince, P. A.; Rothery, P.; Wood, A. G. 1998. Population changes in albatrosses at South Georgia. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, R. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 69-83. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.

Croxall, J. P.; Silk, J. R.D.; Phillips, R. A.; Afanasyev, V.; Briggs, D. R. 2005. Global circumnavigations: tracking year-round ranges of non-breeding albatrosses. Science 307(5707): 249-250.

Environment Australia. 1999. Draft recovery plan for albatrosses and giant petrels.

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

Jouventin, P.; Stahl, J. -C.; Weimerskirch, H.; Mougin, J. -L. 1984. The seabirds of the French subantarctic islands and Adélie Land, their status and conservation. In: Croxall, J.P.; Evans, P.G.H.; Schreiber, R.W. (ed.), Status and conservation of the world"s seabirds, pp. 609-625. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Moore, P. J. 2004. Abundance and population trends of mollymawks on Campbell Island.

Nel, D. C.; Lutjeharms, J. R. E.; Pakhomov, E. A.; Ansorge, I. J.; Ryan, P. G.; Klages, N. T. W. 2001. Exploitation of mesoscale oceanographic features by Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma in the southern Indian Ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series 217: 15-26.

Nel, D. C.; Nel, J. L.; Ryan, P. G.; Klages, N. T. W.; Wilson, R. P.; Robertson, G. 2000. Foraging ecology of Grey-headed Mollymawks at Marion Island, southern Indian Ocean, in relation to longline fishing activity. Biological Conservation 96: 219-231.

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.

Nel, D. C.; Ryan, P. G.; Watkins, B. P. 2002. Seabird mortality in the Patagonian Toothfish longline fishery around the Prince Edward Islands. Antarctic Science 14: 151-161.

Phillips, R. A.; Silk, J. R. D.; Phalan, B.; Catry, P.; Croxall, J. P. 2004. Seasonal sexual segregation of two Thalassarche albatross species: competitive exclusion, reproductive role specialization or foraging niche divergence? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 271: 1283-1291.

Poncet, S.; Robertson, G.; Phillips, R. A.; Lawton, K.; Phalan, B.; Trathan, P. N.; Croxall, J. P. 2006. Status and distribution of Wandering, Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses breeding at South Georgia. Polar Biology 29: 772-781.

Prince, P. A. 1980. The food and feeding ecology of Grey-headed Albatross Diomedea chrysostoma and Black-rowed Albatross D. melanophris. Ibis 122: 476-488.

Prince, P. A.; Croxall, J. P.; Trathan, P. N.; Wood, A. G. 1998. The pelagic distribtuion of South Georgia albatrosses and their relationships with fisheries. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, R. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 137-167. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.

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.

Robertson, G.; Moreno, C. A.; Lawton, K.; Arata, J.; Valencia, J.; Kirkwood, R. 2007. An estimate of the population sizes of Black-browed (Thalassarche melanophrys) and Grey-headed (T. chrysostoma) Albatross breeding in the Diego Ramírez Archipelago, Chile. Emu 107(3): 239-244.

Ryan, P. G.; Cooper, J.; Dyer, B. M.; Underhill, L. G.; Crawford, R. J. M.; Bester, M. N. 2003. Counts of surface-nesting seabirds breeding at Prince Edward Island, Summer 2001/02. African Journal of Marine Science 25(1): 441-451.

Ryan, P. G.; Jones, M. G. W.; Dyer, B. M.; Upfold, L.; Crawford, R. J. M. 2009. Recent population estimates and trends in numbers of albatrosses and giant petrels breeding at the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands. African Journal of Marine Science 31(3): 409-417.

Taylor, G. A. 2000. Action plan for seabird conservation in New Zealand. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

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.

Waugh, S. M.; Sagar, P. M.; Cossee, R. O. 1999. New Zealand Black-browed Albatross Diomedea melanophrys impavida and Grey-headed Albatross D. chrysotoma banded at Campbell Island: recoveries from the South Pacific region. Emu 99: 29-35.

Waugh, S. M.; Weimerskirch, H.; Cherel, Y.; Shankar, U.; Prince, P. A.; Sagar, P. M. 1999. Exploitation of the marine environment by two sympatric albatrosses in the Pacific Southern Ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series 177: 243.

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.; Zotier, R.; Jouventin, P. 1988. The avifauna of the Kerguelen islands. Emu 89: 15-29.

Xavier, J. C.; Croxall, J. P.; Trathan, P. N.; Wood, A. G. 2003. Feeding strategies and diets of breeding grey-headed and wandering albatrosses at South Georgia. Marine Biology 143: 221-232.

Further web sources of information
Additional information is available on the distribution of the Grey-headed Albatross from the Global Procellariiform Tracking Database (http://www.seabirdtracking.org)

Australian Govt - Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 - Recovery Outline

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Anderson, O., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Small, C., Sullivan, B. & Symes, A.

Contributors
Arata, J., Cooper, J., Croxall, J., Gales, R., Phillips, R., Robertson, C., Ryan, P.G., Xavier, J. & Misiak, W.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Thalassarche chrysostoma. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/12/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/12/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Grey-headed albatross (Thalassarche chrysostoma)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
Species name author (Forster, 1785)
Population size 250000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,800 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species