Diomedea antipodensis C. J. R. Robertson & Warham, 1992 — Details

Antipodean Albatross learn more about names for this taxon

Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Using its expansive wings, the Antipodean albatross can glide for vast distances, expending very little energy as it searches for food. It feeds predominantly on dead squid found floating at the surface (5), and on fish (2). After fledging, the Antipodean albatross may spend up to five years at sea without ever touching land, and only really spends significant time ashore at about ten years old, when it is ready to start breeding (5). Antipodean albatross reproduction is a complex and lengthy process, the elaborate courtship ritual alone may be performed over many successive breeding seasons before mating finally occurs. The most striking aspect of the courtship is the dance, which involves bowing, bill snapping, mutual preening, touching bills and head shaking. Both the male and female will engage in this dance, which is believed to help strengthen the bond between breeding pairs (9). Diomedea antipodensis antipodensis populations commence egg-laying on Antipodes Island around early January and on the Chatham Islands around February (10), while Diomedea antipodensis gibsoni on the Auckland Islands breeds in late December. Rearing the chicks takes about a year, with the parent birds spending the first three months ashore incubating the egg, and the remaining nine months making foraging trips out to sea and returning to feed the chick. Depending on specific populations' breeding times, most chicks fledge and leave the nest between January and February (5). If breeding is successful, the adults will not breed in the following season, thereby producing just a single chick every two to three years (5).
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Description

A magnificent seabird with a huge, three-metre wingspan (5), the Antipodean albatross was once considered to be a subspecies of the well-known wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans), but recent genetic studies have confirmed that it is a distinct species (2) (6). The female Antipodean albatross has chocolate-brown upperparts, interspersed with irregular white, wavy patterns, while the male's upperparts are much whiter (2). In both sexes, the crown of the head has brown markings, which may vary from a small patch, to a broad cap extending down to the nape of the neck (7). The remainder of the head and body are white, with the exception of the tips of the wings, which are black (2). Although there is still some contention, many scientists accept the separation of the Antipodean albatross into two subspecies: Diomedea antipodensis antipodensis and Diomedea antipodensis gibsoni. The male Diomedea antipodensis antipodensis has a darker head cap, darker tail and is less white than Diomedea antipodensis gibsoni, while the female Diomedea antipodensis antipodensis has a distinct, brown breast band (2).
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Distribution

Range Description

Diomedea antipodensis is endemic to New Zealand, breeding on Antipodes Island (4,565 breeding pairs annually between 2007 and 2009 [ACAP 2009]), the Auckland Islands group (Adams, Disappointment and Auckland), where four counts from 2006 to 2009 indicated a mean annual breeding population of 3,277 pairs (ACAP 2009), Campbell Island (c.10 pairs [Gales 1998]), and Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands (one pair since 2004) (Miskelly et al. 2008). The total average annual breeding population of 8,050 pairs on all islands gives an estimated population of 44,500 mature individuals in 2009 (ACAP 2009). Data from satellite tracking indicate that birds from the Auckland Islands forage mostly west of New Zealand over the Tasman Sea and south of Australia, while those from the Antipodes forage east of New Zealand in the South Pacific, as far as the coast of Chile, and have a larger overall range (Medway 1993, Taylor 2000, Walker and Elliot 2006).

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Range

Breeds Antipodes Islands and (small numbers) Campbell Island (New Zealand); ranges at sea at least to Tasman Sea east across southern Pacific Ocean.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Range

Endemic to New Zealand, the breeding grounds of the Antipodean albatross are limited to the subantarctic islands of the South Pacific. Diomedea antipodensis antipodensis breeds on Antipodes Island, with a small population also breeding on the islands of Pitt and Campbell (part of the Chatham Islands group). Diomedea antipodensis gibsoni breeds on the islands of Adams, Disappointment and Auckland (part of the Auckland Islands group) (8). The Antipodean albatross travels huge distances when foraging and has been recorded in the Tasman Sea, around southern Australia, and in the South Pacific as far as the coast of Chile (2).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Behaviour Eggs are laid between late December and late January on the Auckland Islands, and between early January and early February on the Antipodes Islands. Hatching takes place between March and April, and chicks fledge after nine months departing in mid-December to early March (ACAP 2009). Breeding is biennial if chicks are successfully reared (Gales 1998). Fledglings do not return earlier than the age of three years old, and the youngest age of first breeding is seven years for Antipodes Island birds and eight years old for Auckland Islands birds (ACAP 2009). Between 1991 and 2004, average productivity was 74% on Antipodes Island and significantly lower (63%) on the Auckland Islands (Elliot and Walker 2005). Foraging was most concentrated over pelagic waters and deep shelf slope (up to 6000 m), with peaks of activity at 1000 m corresponding to seamounts and shelf breaks where productivity is high. Foraging trips are longer during incubation (7-13 days) than chick-rearing (average 4 days) (ACAP 2009). Breeders and non-breeders have similar core foraging areas, though non-breeding juvenile males from the Antipodes Islands migrate east to the waters off Chile, and non-breeding juvenile males and females from the Auckland Islands forage westward to the south-eastern Indian Ocean (ACAP 2009). Habitat Breeding It nests from the coastline inland, on ridges, slopes and plateaus, usually in open or patchy vegetation, such as tussock grassland or shrubs. Diet It feeds mostly on cephalopods and fish (ACAP 2009).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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A pelagic species, the Antipodean albatross spends much of its life at sea (5). It returns to land during the breeding season, where it nests on the windswept islands of the subantarctic region (2). Nests are constructed in the open or, more commonly, among tussock grass and shrubs, avoiding regions with tall vegetation and the highly exposed tops of hills and ridges (5).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
D2

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Robertson, C., Stahl, J.-C., Taylor, G.A. & Walker, K.

Justification
This species is classified as Vulnerable because it is largely confined to three small islands when breeding and is therefore highly susceptible to stochastic effects and human impacts. Recent data (2005-2008) from the Auckland Islands indicate declines in adult survival, productivity and recruitment, which, if confirmed by further monitoring, could result in a reclassification of Endangered or Critically Endangered.


History
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Not Recognized (NR)
  • Near Threatened (NT)