BirdLife Species Factsheet for Black-footed Albatross Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes breeds on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (USA), the US Minor Outlying Islands and three outlying islands of Japan, colonies having been lost from other Pacific islands. The species is currently listed as Vulnerable on the basis of suspected rapid ongoing population declines over three generations (A4bd). It was previously listed as Endangered but was downlisted in 2011 (see archived BirdLife discussion forum). However, further analysis of population trend estimates for the species suggests that further reassessment as Near Threatened may be warranted. The analysis presented by Arata et al. (2009) concluded that the population is stable or increasing, although it may be at risk of decline in the future due to fisheries bycatch, with current bycatch levels approaching levels of Potential Biological Removal (PBR), the estimated maximum level of off-take possible without causing a decline. Other studies on this species have confirmed the impact of fisheries bycatch on survival (Verán et al. 2007) and the annual population growth rate (Niel and Lebreton 2005). Annual bycatch was estimated at 5,228 birds in 2005, which, if doubled to account for underestimation, approaches the maximum PBR level of 11,980 birds (Arata et al. 2009). The maximum PBR level for this species has previously been estimated at 8,850 birds per year (Niel and Lebreton 2005) and 10,000 birds per year (Cousins and Cooper 2000). There is also uncertainty over the historic population trends of this species. Monitoring data from three colonies in Hawaii, representing over 75% of the world’s population, suggested that numbers may have decreased by 9.6% from 1992 to 2001 (USFWS data per E. Flint 2003, Gilman and Freifeld 2003). However, linear regression analysis of log-transformed counts at the same colonies suggests that the species’s population has remained stable since at least 1957 and has increased overall since 1923 (Arata et al. 2009), while matrix modelling suggests that its population is currently stable or increasing slightly (Arata et al. 2009). In addition, trends over a three generation period (56 years) commencing in 1956 were estimated at +26% using TRIM to analyse data from ACAP (W. Misiak in litt. 2012). The lack of evidence for a population decline exceeding 30% over a three-generation period suggests that the species does not qualify as Vulnerable under A4, with a stable or increasing population suggesting it does not qualify under this criterion at Near Threatened either. However, the risk of bycatch approaching PBR and potentially leading to declines in future suggests that a precautionary listing of Near Threatened (under criterion A3d; ie a projected decline approaching 30% over the next 56 years) may be more appropriate. Presumably the species would also not have qualified at any higher category level since the date it was first assessed for the IUCN Red List in 1988. Comments on this assessment and the proposed downlisting to Near Threatened, plus any additional information on population trends, are welcomed. Phoebastria nigripes trend analysis References: Arata, J. A., Sievert, P. R. and Naughton, M. B. (2009) Status assessment of Laysan and black-footed albatrosses, North Pacfic Ocean, 1923-2000. U. S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5131. Reston, Virginia: U. S. Geological Survey. Gilman, E. and Freifeld, H. (2003) Seabird mortality in North Pacific longline fisheries. Endang. Spec. Update 20: 35-46. Naughton, M. B, Romano, M. D. and Zimmerman., T. S. (2007) A Conservation Action Plan for Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) and Laysan Albatross (P. immutabilis), Ver. 1.0. Niel, C. and Lebreton, J.-D. (2005) Using Demographic Invariants to Detect Overharvested Bird Populations from Incomplete Data. Cons. Biol. 19: 826-835 Verán, S., Gimenez, O., Flint, E., Kendall, W. L., Doherty, P. F., Jr. and Lebreton, J.-D. (2007) Quantifying the impact of longline fisheries on adult survival in the back-footed albatross. J. Appl. Ecol. 44: 942-953.
- Africa (168)
- Americas (320)
- Archive (716)
- Asia (265)
- Australia (35)
- Europe & Central Asia (70)
- Illegal killing of birds (2)
- Middle East (47)
- Pacific (103)
- Species Group (189)
- Taxonomy (158)
- Uncategorized (6)
Five most recent topics
- Review of illegal killing of birds in Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Iran
- Yellow-breasted Pipit (Hemimacronyx chloris): uplist from Vulnerable to Endangered?
- Okarito Brown Kiwi (Apteryx rowi): Downlist to Vulnerable?
- White-winged Cotinga (Xipholena atropurpurea): downlist from Endangered to Vulnerable?
- Atlantic Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus swainsoni): downlist from Vulnerable to Near Threatened?
- Discovering the remarkable nature of São Tomé and Príncipe February 21, 2017Synchronicity Earth is a UK charity which, on the basis of its research, aims to identify and increase support for high-priority conservation action globally. On first inspection, the São Tomé Grosbeak Crithagra concolor might appear drab, unassuming, maybe even unremarkable. But first impressions can be deceiving. It is in fact one of the most endangered bird species […]
- Estimates are in: 25,000 seabirds die in southern cone fisheries every year February 21, 2017The turbulent waters around the southern part of South America are some of the most productive in the world, with upwellings of nutrients that support a whole suite of species. Along the Patagonian Shelf to the east, around the southern tip of the continent at Cape Horn and up into the Humboldt Current to the […]
- Climate change could deliver final blow for world’s threatened species February 15, 2017A new study suggests that half of all threatened terrestrial mammals, and a quarter of threatened birds, are already being negatively impacted by climate change. Could it prove the tipping point? Scepticism of climate change may be on the rise in some political circles, but there’s no turning a blind eye if you’re an animal […]
- Discovering the remarkable nature of São Tomé and Príncipe February 21, 2017