Chatham albatross

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Chatham albatross
Chatham albatross (Thalassarche eremita).jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Diomedeidae
Genus: Thalassarche
Species: T. eremita
Binomial name
Thalassarche eremita
(Murphy, 1930)[2]
Synonyms
  • Thalassarche cauta eremita
  • Diomedea cauta eremita[3]
Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania
Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania

The Chatham albatross (Thalassarche eremita), also known as the Chatham mollymawk or Chatham Islands mollymawk,[4] is a medium-sized black-and-white albatross which breeds only on The Pyramid, a large rock stack in the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. It is sometimes treated as a subspecies of the shy albatross Thalassarche cauta. It is the smallest of the shy albatross group.

Taxonomy[edit]

Mollymawks are a type of albatross that belong to Diomedeidae family and come from the Procellariiformes order, along with shearwaters, fulmars, storm petrels, and diving petrels. They share certain identifying features. First, they have nasal passages that attach to the upper bill called naricorns. Although the nostrils on the albatross are on the sides of the bill. The bills of Procellariiformes are also unique in that they are split into between 7 and 9 horny plates. Finally, they produce a stomach oil made up of wax esters and triglycerides that is stored in the proventriculus. This is used against predators as well as an energy rich food source for chicks and for the adults during their long flights.[5] They also have a salt gland that is situated above the nasal passage and helps desalinate their bodies, due to the high amount of ocean water that they imbibe. It excretes a high saline solution from their nose.[6]

The Chatham albatross, with the white-capped, shy and Salvin's albatrosses, were all considered the same species until a 1998 book by Robertson and Nunn.[7] Other experts followed suit, with BirdLife International in 2000,[8] Brooke in 2004,[9] ACAP in 2006,[10] and SACC in 2008.[11][12][13] Though some, such as James Clements, do not agree.[14]

The Chatham albatross was first described as Diomedea cauta eremita by Robert Cushman Murphy, in 1930, based on a specimen from Pyramid Rock.[3]

Description[edit]

The Chatham albatross weighs 3.1 to 4.7 kg (6.8–10.4 lb)[4] and it has a length of 90 cm (35 in). The adult has a dark grey crown, face, upper mantle, back, upperwing, tail, and throat. They have a white rump and underparts. They also have a black thumbmark on the leading edge of the underwings, and a black tip on the wings. Their bill is yellow with a dark spot on the tip of the lower mandible.[8] Finally, they have an orange cheek stripe.[4] The juveniles have more extensive grey and their bill is blue-grey with black tips on both mandibles.[8][11][12][13]

Behaviour[edit]

Chatham Albatross-off Eaglehawk TAS-03Sept2011.jpg

They are normally silent, but will emit a harsh buzzing bray when threatened and also during courtship. Besides the sound they will put on a courtship display which includes fanning of the tail, mutual jousting of bills, and grunting.[4]

Feeding[edit]

The Chatham albatross feeds on fish, cephalopods,[15] krill, and barnacles.[4]

Reproduction[edit]

This species of albatross breeds annually on rocky ledges, steep slopes, and crevices. They build pedestal nests of soil and vegetation.[4] At this time The Pyramid is their only breeding site. They lay their single egg between 20 August and 1 October, with the egg hatching in November or December, after 68–72 days. The chicks fledge by March or April,[15] or 130 to 140 days after hatching. Juveniles return to the colony after four years, but do not breed until their seventh year.[4]

Range and habitat[edit]

Breeding Population and Trends[8]
Location Population Date Trend
The Pyramid Chatham Islands 5,300 pair 2003 Stable
Total 11,000 2003 Stable

The Chatham albatross nests only on The Pyramid in the Chatham Islands. Using aerial photography, in 1998, scientists estimated that there were between 3,200 and 4,200 pairs nesting.[16] Ground counts from 1999 to 2003 increased this number to 5,300[3] pairs for a total of approximately 11,000 breeding age birds. When not breeding they range in the South Pacific from Tasmania to Chile and Peru. From April to July they will utilize the Humboldt Current and go as far north as 6°S along the South American coast.[3][17]

Conservation[edit]

The IUCN has classified this species as Critically Endangered,[1] due to the fact that they nest on one small island, which as undergone significant decline in habitat condition. In 1985 a severe storm impacted the island by reducing the amount of vegetation.[16] The conditions have been improving since 1998.[3] As with other albatrosses, commercial fishing impacts their survival, with longline[3][18] and the occasional trawl line. Illegal harvesting of chicks occurs occasionally.[19]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Thalassarche eremita". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Brands, S. (2008)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Robertson, C. J. R., et. al (2003)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Robertson, C. J. R. (2003)
  5. ^ Double, M. C. (2003)
  6. ^ Ehrlich, Paul R. (1988)
  7. ^ Robertson, C. J. R. & Nunn, G. B. (1998)
  8. ^ a b c d BirdLife International (2008)
  9. ^ Brooke, M. (2004)
  10. ^ ACAP (2007)
  11. ^ a b Remsen Jr., J. V. (2004)
  12. ^ a b Remsen Jr., J. V. (2005)
  13. ^ a b Remsen Jr., J. V. (2008)
  14. ^ Clements, J. (2007)
  15. ^ a b Marchant, S. & Higgins, P. J. (1990)
  16. ^ a b Croxall, J. P. & Gales, R. (1998)
  17. ^ BirdLife International (2004)
  18. ^ New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries (2007)
  19. ^ Taylor, G. A. (2000)

References[edit]

  • "Species Assessments" (PDF). ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels). 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  • Threatened birds of the world 2004 (CD-ROM). Cambridge, U.K.: BirdLife International. 2004. 
  • BirdLife International (2008). "Chatham Albatross - BirdLife Species Factsheet". Data Zone. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  • Brands, Sheila (Aug 14, 2008). "Systema Naturae 2000 / Classification - Diomedea (Thalassogeron) cauta -". Project: The Taxonomicon. Retrieved 22 Feb 2009. 
  • Brooke, M. (2004). "Procellariidae". Albatrosses And Petrels Across The World. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850125-0. 
  • Clements, James (2007). The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World (6 ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-4501-9. 
  • Croxall, J. P.; Gales, R. (1998). "Assessment of the conservation status of albatrosses". In Robertson, G.; Gales, R. Albatross biology and conservation. Chipping Norton, Australia: Surrey Beatty & Sons. 
  • Double, M. C. (2003). "Procellariiformes (Tubenosed Seabirds)". In Hutchins, Michael; Jackson, Jerome A.; Bock, Walter J. et al. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 8. Birds I Tinamous and Ratites to Hoatzins. Joseph E. Trumpey, Chief Scientific Illustrator (2 ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. pp. 107–111. ISBN 0-7876-5784-0. 
  • Ehrlich, Paul R.; Dobkin, David, S.; Wheye, Darryl (1988). The Birders Handbook (First ed.). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. pp. 29–31. ISBN 0-671-65989-8. 
  • Marchant, S.; Higgins, P. J. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds, 1: ratites to ducks. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-553068-1. 
  • "More measures for seabird protection" (Press release). New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries. 13 Sep 2007. Retrieved 22 Feb 2009. 
  • Remsen Jr., J. V.; et. al (Dec 2004). "Proposal No. 155 to South American Check-list Committee: Split Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta into two or three species". South American Classification Committee. American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 18 Feb 2009. 
  • Remsen Jr., J. V.; et. al (Feb 2005). "Proposal (#166) to South American Classification Committee: Re-lump Thalassarche eremita and Thalassarche salvini with Thalassarche cauta". South American Classification Committee. American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 18 Feb 2009. 
  • Remsen Jr., J. V.; et. al (28 Feb 2008). "Proposal (#255) to South American Classification Committee : Follow-up to Proposal 155: Split Thalassarche cauta into three species". South American Classification Committee. American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 18 Feb 2009. 
  • Robertson, C. J. R. (2003). "Albatrosses (Diomedeidae)". In Hutchins, Michael; Jackson, Jerome A.; Bock, Walter J. et al. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 8. Birds I Tinamous and Ratites to Hoatzins. Joseph E. Trumpey, Chief Scientific Illustrator (2 ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. p. 120. ISBN 0-7876-5784-0. 
  • Robertson, C. J. R.; Bell, D.; Sinclair, N.; Bell, B. D. (2003). "Distribution of seabirds from New Zealand that overlap with fisheries worldwide". Science for Conservation (Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Conservation) (233). 
  • Robertson, C. J. R.; Nunn, G. B. (1998). "Towards a new taxonomy for albatrosses". In Robertson, G.; Gales, R. Albatross biology and conservation. Chipping Norton, Australia: Surrey Beatty & Sons. pp. 13–19. 
  • Taylor, G. A. (2000). "Action plan for seabird conservation in New Zealand. Wellington: Department of Conservation". Threatened Species Occasional Publication (16). 

External links[edit]