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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

The Little Shearwater is found throughout the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere south of the Tropic of Capricorn, with the exception of the south-east coast of South America. It is also found of the north-west coast of Africa, breeding on Cape Verde, the Azores, Portugal and the Canary Islands, Spain1.

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Source: IUCN

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Physical Description

Type Information

Type for Puffinus assimilis
Catalog Number: USNM 492974
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): Pacific Project & A. Amerson
Year Collected: 1963
Locality: Sand Island, Honolulu County, Midway Islands, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, North Pacific Ocean
  • Type: Pyle, P., et al. 2011. A New Species of Shearwater (Puffinus) Recorded from Midway Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Condor. 113 (3)
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This marine species is found over warm tropical and subtropical waters, more frequently on inshore wanters then pelagic. Squid, fish and crustaceans have all been recorded in its diet. It breeds mostly during the local summer in colonies on offshore or oceanic islands, on grassy slopes or amongst rocks up to 15 km inland. Most populations are considered fairly sedentary with some dispersal (mainly immature individuals) (del Hoyo et al. 1992)

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 59 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 59 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): 1.905 - 23.464
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.139 - 21.894
  Salinity (PPS): 32.328 - 35.838
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.975 - 7.473
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.141 - 1.713
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.240 - 27.270

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): 1.905 - 23.464

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.139 - 21.894

Salinity (PPS): 32.328 - 35.838

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.975 - 7.473

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.141 - 1.713

Silicate (umol/l): 1.240 - 27.270
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Puffinus assimilis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

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

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Population

Population
Brooke (2004) estimated the global population to number over 900,000 individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Wikipedia

Little shearwater

The little shearwater (Puffinus assimilis) is a small shearwater in the petrel family Procellariidae. Despite the generic name, it is unrelated to the puffins, which are auks, the only similarity being that they are both burrow-nesting seabirds.

Description[edit]

This shearwater has the typically "shearing" flight of the genus, dipping from side to side on stiff wings with few beats, the wingtips almost touching the water, though in light winds it has a more flapping flight than that of its larger relatives. In flight it looks cross-shaped, with its wings held at right angles to the body, its colouration changing from black to white as the black upperparts and white underparts are alternately exposed as it travels low over the sea.

At 25–30 cm (9.8–11.8 in) in length with a 58–67 cm (23–26 in) wingspan, it is like a small Manx shearwater but has proportionally shorter and broader wings, with a pale area on the inner flight feathers. Its bill is more slender than that of Manx, and its dark eye stands out against the surrounding white area.

Taxonomy[edit]

mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data indicate that the former North Atlantic little shearwater group (Boyd's shearwater, P. boydi and Barolo shearwater, P. baroli) is closer to Audubon's shearwater (Austin 1996, Heidrich et al. 1998), (although many taxonomists now consider them to be distinct species), and myrtae being closer to the Newell's and possibly Townsend's shearwater (Austin et al. 2004). Heinroth's shearwater was also sometimes considered a subspecies of this bird; the relationship between the little and Audubon's shearwater is probably not as close as long believed (Austin 1996, Heidrich et al. 1998, Austin et al. 2001, but see also Penhallurick & Wink 2004, and Rheindt & Austin 2005).

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This species occurs throughout the oceans south of the Tropic of Capricorn. It breeds in colonies on islands and coastal cliffs, nesting in burrows which are only visited at night to avoid predation by large gulls.

Behaviour[edit]

This is a gregarious species, which can been seen in large numbers from boats or headlands, especially on migration in autumn. It feeds on fish and molluscs. It does not follow boats. It is silent at sea, but at night the breeding colonies are alive with raucous cackling calls.

References[edit]

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