Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

The northern royal albatross usually pairs for life, with new pairs performing elaborate courtship displays that include actions like 'bill-circling', 'sky-pointing', 'flank-touching' with the bill, and full spreading of the wings, typically accompanied by a variety of calls. Breeding occurs every two years if successful (6). Previously mated pairs usually use the same nest site from season to season (7), and usually return to their breeding grounds between mid-October and mid-November, with the female laying her single egg a month later (6). After 79 days incubation the hatchling emerges, and the young fledges 240 days later from September to October the following year. These long-lived birds return to their natal colony at four to eight years of age but do not start to breed until at least nine years, and have been recorded to live up to at least 61 years in the wild (6). The northern royal albatross feeds mainly on fish and squid, supplemented by crustaceans and carrion (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Description

With a wingspan of up to 3.2 meters, the northern royal albatross is one of the world's largest flying birds (3). The plumage is white with completely black upperwings, and juveniles have some black flecking on the upperparts (5). The bill is pale pink with a diagnostic black edge to the upper beak (2) (5).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

Range Description

Diomedea sanfordi breeds on Forty-Fours, Big and Little Sister Islands (Chatham Islands), Taiaroa Head (Otago Peninsula, South Island) and Enderby Island (Auckland Islands), New Zealand. The Chatham Islands population (99% of the total) is estimated at 6,500-7,000 pairs (Robertson et al. 2003), with c. 5,200-5,800 pairs breeding each year. Around 25 pairs breed each year at Taiaroa Head, including five hybrids (descended from cross with female Southern Royal Albatross D. epomophora). Two birds have hybridised on Enderby Island. During the breeding season adults typically forage over the Chatham Rise (Nicholls et al. 2002, BirdLife International 2004). Non-breeding and juvenile birds undertake circumpolar traverses in the Southern Oceans (Robertson and Nicholls 2000)and forage in the Humboldt Current and Patagonian Shelf, off the coasts of South America (Robertson et al. 2003, Nicholls et al. 2005, Thomas et al. 2010). Low annual productivity has led to a projected population decline in this species. In 1985, a cyclonic storm hit the breeding sites on the Chatham Islands, reducing soil cover and destroying most vegetation (Robertson 1998). Nests were subsequently built with stones, or eggs laid on bare rock (Taylor 2000). As a result, mean annual productivity plummeted to 8% (1990-1996) on the Forty-Fours, and 18% over all three islands (Robertson 1998), due to egg breakage, high temperatures and flooding in temporary pools (Taylor 2000), though there has since been a partial recovery (Robertson et al. 2003). By 2007, annual herb-field vegetation cover had recovered to about 70% of that recorded in the 1970s. The soil base is still minimal, but improving. While productivity has continued to improve, the mean annual chick production from 1995-2003 was still only 66% of the mean annual productivity per annum in the 1970s. It is estimated that for the 20 year period 1985-2005 there was a total 50-60% reduction in productivity for the species. However, it is clear from the annual chick production figures that the annual breeding population is becoming much more balanced than in the 1990s, when as much at 80-90% of the breeding population was attempting to breed annually (rather than the normal 60%). In 2002, an end of egg-laying count was 5,800 pairs, with a probable 1,700 pairs on sabbatical (after breeding in the previous season). This suggests that in spite of the extensive reduction in productivity over a 20-year period, the number of breeding pairs may have remained relatively stable (C. J. R. Robertson in litt. 2008).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Range

Chatham Islands and New Zealand; ranges circumpolar s oceans.
  • 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/

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Range

The majority of northern royal albatrosses breed on Forty-Fours, Big and Little Sister Islands (Chatham Islands), but breeding also occurs on Taiaroa Head (Otago Peninsula, South Island) and Enderby Island (Auckland Islands), New Zealand. Non-breeding birds occupy the Southern Oceans (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Behaviour Eggs are laid in October to December, hatching mostly between late January and early February, and chicks fledge in September-October. It is a biennial breeder, if chick rearing is successful. Juvenile birds start returning to the colony when three years old but the mean is four years of age. Age of first breeding can be as early as six years old, but it is usually eight years of age. Satellite-tracking of breeding birds shows that they forage close to their breeding sites, over the shallow waters of the Chatham Rise out to the shelf slope (1,500 - 2,000 m deep). Failed breeders and non-breeding birds, including newly fledged juveniles, rapidly traverse the Pacific Ocean to the continental shelf and slope off Chile and the Patagonian Shelf. On the Patagonian Shelf, they are widespread 200-350 km offshore in waters <200 m deep but extending to, and over, the shelf break to 1000 m depth between 36 and 49°S (ACAP 2009). Habitat Breeding Northern Royal Albatrosses usually nest on the flat summits of tiny islands with herb fields (G. A. Taylor in litt. 1999) and grasses. The nest is typically a low mound of vegetation, mud, feathers, stone chips etc, on flat ground and slopes on islands and headlands. Diet It feeds mainly on cephalopods and fish, but also salps, crustacea and carrion (Heather and Robertson 1997, Imber 1999).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

The northern royal albatross typically nests on the flat summits of small islands, but in the non-breeding season inhabits the open oceans (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
A4bc;B2ab(iii,v)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Gales, R., Misiak, W., Phillips, R., Robertson, C., Stahl, J.-C., Taylor, G. & Walker, K.

Justification
This species is classified as Endangered because it is restricted to a tiny breeding range in which severe storms in the 1980s resulted in a decrease in habitat quality, which led to poor breeding success. Based on this low breeding success, the population is estimated and projected to be undergoing a very rapid decline over three generations (1985-2069). Evidence suggests that the number of breeding pairs may have remained relatively stable, thus the species might qualify for downlisting in the future, however in the absence of recent substantive data upon which to assess trends or changes in productivity rates, projected declines are precautionarily maintained.


History
  • 2012
    Endangered
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1), and listed on Annex 1 of ACAP (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Population

Population
The largest population (99%) is on the Chatham Islands, with 1% of the population on Taiaroa Head, on the mainland of South Island, New Zealand. There has not been a successful run of annual photographs over the past 8 years to enable updated estimates of the breeding population of this biennial breeder (C. J. R. Robertson in litt. 2008). However, air photographic counts on the Chatham Islands in the 1970s (1972-1975)and 1990s (1989-1991) recorded a total of 6,500-7,000 total breeding pairs. The number of pairs breeding each year was estimated as 5,200 pairs, based on a count in 1995. This is equivalent to a total population of 17,000 mature individuals. A count in 2002 recorded 5,800 pairs on the Chatham Islands (counted at the end of egg laying), with a probable 1,700 pairs on sabbatical after breeding in the previous season (C. J. R. Robertson in litt. 2008). However, since the estimate of 17,000 mature individuals is based on data from multiple years, this is the estimate used here. It roughly equates to 25,000-26,000 individuals in total. Around.25 pairs breed each year at Taiaroa Head, including five hybrids (descended from cross with female Southern Royal Albatross D. epomophora). Two individuals of D. sanfordi, both breeding with D. epomophora partners, have been recorded on Enderby Island.

Population Trend
Decreasing
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Major Threats
In 1985, a cyclonic storm hit the breeding sites on the Chathams, reducing soil cover and destroying most vegetation (Robertson 1998). In addition, a reduction in mean eggshell thickness of 20% or more (at times of high nesting density), and an increased incidence of chicks dead in the shell have been recorded in the last 20 years, but do not appear to be caused by contaminants (Taylor 2000). At Taiaroa Head, control of predators aims to reduce predation by introduced blowflies Lucilia sericata, stoat Mustela erminea and cats (Croxall and Gales 1998). Mortality due to longline and trawling fishing activities has been recorded (Croxall and Gales 1998, Taylor 2000), but the relatively high survival rates of adults and juveniles suggest that fisheries-related mortality is not a major threat to this species (ACAP 2009). There is a history of significant harvesting of D. sanfordi on the Chatham Islands by local residents. Harvesting of chicks may still occur, although now illegal, but this is likely to be limited in extent (ACAP 2009).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

A storm that hit the Chatham Islands in 1985 had a dramatic impact on the reproductive success of the northern royal albatross, reducing soil cover and destroying all vegetation so that nests had to be constructed with stones, or eggs simply laid on bare rock. As a result, annual reproductive success plummeted due to egg breakage, high temperatures and flooding in temporary pools. Introduced predators pose an additional threat, with stoats (Mustela erminea) and cats known to take eggs and chicks at Taiaroa Head. Albatrosses are notoriously vulnerable to becoming entangled in fishing equipment whilst feeding on baited hooks or catch, and mortality due to longline fishing activities may pose a future threat to this species (2).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
ACAP Annex 1. All populations are monitored periodically. Annual population data from Taiaroa Head is the most complete for any seabird species in New Zealand (Taylor 2000). Predator control at Taiaroa Head during the breeding season results in comparatively high mean annual productivity (Croxall and Gales 1998) (no predators recorded on Chatham Island colonies). Animal husbandry techniques have been developed from work with this colony. Feral cattle, rabbits and mice have been eradicated from Enderby Island (Taylor 2000). Taiaroa Head and Enderby Island are nature reserves.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to census Chatham populations annually using aerial photography. Continue intensive management of Taiaroa Head colony. Band further cohorts of chicks from all colonies. Obtain legal protection for Forty-Fours and Sisters Islands, and continued access for research (Taylor 2000).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

All populations of the northern royal albatross are monitored annually, and predator control initiatives at Taiaroa Head during the breeding season have dramatically improved annual reproductive success rates. Feral cattle, rabbits and mice have all been eradicated from Enderby Island, and Taiaroa Head and Enderby Island are established as nature reserves (2). The northern royal albatross is also listed on Annex 1 of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve albatrosses and petrels by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to these magnificent seabirds (4).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Northern royal albatross

The northern royal albatross or toroa,[3] Diomedea sanfordi, is a large seabird from the albatross family. It was split from the closely related southern royal albatross as recently as 1998,[4] though not all scientists support that conclusion and consider both of them to be subspecies of the royal albatross.[5]

Etymology[edit]

Diomedea sanfordi breaks into Diomedea referring to Diomedes, whose companions turned to birds,[6] and sanfordi" in honor of Leonard Cutler Sanford (1868-1950), ornithologist, and trustee of the American Museum of Natural History.[7]

Taxonomy[edit]

Albatrosses 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 seven and nine 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.[8]

The northern royal albatross was first described as Diomedea sanfordi by Robert Cushman Murphy, in 1917, based on a specimen from the Chatham Islands.[3]

Description[edit]

The northern royal albatross is typically about 115 cm (45 in),[4] weighs 6.2–8.2 kg (14–18 lb) and has a wingspan from 270–305 cm (106–120 in).[3][9] The juvenile has a white head, neck, upper mantle, rump, and underparts. There is dark speckling on the crown and rump. Its lower mantle and back are white with more black speckling than the crown, and it has dark black-brown upper wings with white flecks on its covert. Its tail is white with a black-brown tip, as are its underwings. There is a black band behind the leading edge of its wings between the carpal joint and the tip. As they age, its head, back, rump, tail, and scapular region whiten. All ages have a pink bill with a black cutting edge on the upper mandible, along with flesh colored legs.[4] The northern royal albatross can be distinguished from the southern at sea by its upper wings, the plumage of which are all dark compared to the large areas of white on the southern. The two species also differ in behavior.

Behavior[edit]

Feeding[edit]

The northern royal albatross feeds on fish, cephalopods, crustaceans, salps, and carrion.[4] Squid is an important part of their diet and can make up 85% of it.

Reproduction[edit]

Young northern royal albatross in the colony on Taiaroa Head, New Zealand

They will perform a very extensive mutual or group display, sometimes in the air or on the water. Once they form a bond, the displays lose extravagance. Breeding starts at eight years.[3] They nest biennially, and will build their nests on flat summits of the islands that they frequent. They prefer to be in grass or herbs, and their nest is a low mound of vegetation, mud, and feathers. A single egg is laid, in October or November, which takes both parents around 80 days to incubate. The chick is brooded for a month, and is ready to fledge after around 240 days.[4] Their colonies are denser than those of any other great albatross.

Breeding Population and Trends[4]
LocationPopulationDateTrend
Chatham Islands6,500-7,000 pair2012Stable
Taiaroa Head, South Island60 pair2012Increasing
Total20,0002012Stable

Range[edit]

Northern royal albatrosses nest on the Chatham Islands (Forty-fours Island, Big Sister Island, and Little Sister Island), Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands, and at Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula of New Zealand. The Taiaroa Head colony is the only albatross colony of any species found on a human-inhabited mainland. When they are not breeding, northern royal albatrosses undertake circumpolar flights in the southern oceans, and in particular like the Humboldt Current and the Patagonian Shelf.[4]

Diomedea sanfordi - south east Tasmania

Conservation[edit]

Northern royal albatrosses are listed as an endangered species by the IUCN,[1] and they have an occurrence range of 64,300,000 km2 (24,800,000 sq mi), with a breeding range of 8 km2 (3.1 sq mi).[4] 6,500 to 7,000 pairs breed on the Chatham Islands annually along with 60 pairs at Taiaroa Head, for an estimated total of 20,000 birds, although this is a 2012 estimate. In 1985 their main breeding grounds on the Chatham Islands have been badly damaged by a series of intense storms and the resulting lack of nesting material has lowered their breeding success. Chicks and eggs of birds breeding on the South Island have also been preyed upon by introduced species, such as cats, bottle flies, and stoats. Finally, longline fishing is the biggest threat to this bird, even though it has been reduced.

To help in the survival of this species, bird banding is underway, Taiaroa Head has predator control in effect during the breeding season, and there are no predators on the Chatham Islands. Enderby Island and Taiaroa Head are nature preserves, and the Department of Conservation had eradicated feral cattle, rabbits and mice from Enderby Island by 1993.[10]

Thanks to the efforts of L. E. Richdale, the colony on Taiaroa Head was protected by 1950. 1972 saw the first formal guided viewing of their breeding area, since 2001 more than 100,000 people visit the Royal Albatross Centre annually to watch this species.[3]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Diomedea sanfordi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Brands, S. (2008)
  3. ^ a b c d e Robertson, C. J. R. (2003)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h BirdLife International (2008)
  5. ^ Clements, J. (2007)
  6. ^ Gotch, A. F. (1995)
  7. ^ Beolens, B., Watkins, M. & Grayson, M., The Eponym Dictionary of Mammals (2009), p.357
  8. ^ Double, M. C. (2003)
  9. ^ Answers.com
  10. ^ Veitch, C. R., et al. (2002)

References[edit]

  • BirdLife International (2008). "Northern Royal Albatross - BirdLife Species Factsheet". Data Zone. Retrieved 18 Feb 2009. 
  • Brands, Sheila (Aug 14, 2008). "Systema Naturae 2000 / Systema Naturae 2000 / Classification - Diomedea (Diomedea) epomophora -". Project: The Taxonomicon. Retrieved 18 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Gotch, A. F. (1995) [1979]. "Albatrosses, Fulmars, Shearwaters, and Petrels". Latin Names Explained A Guide to the Scientific Classifications of Reptiles, Birds & Mammals. New York, NY: Facts on File. p. 190. ISBN 0-8160-3377-3. 
  • 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. 118. ISBN 0-7876-5784-0. 
  • Veitch, C. R.; Clout, M. N. "Eradication of rabbits and mice from subantarctic Enderby and Rose Islands". Turning the tide : the eradication of invasive species, proceedings of the International conference on eradication of island invasives. Occasional papers of the IUCN Species Survival Commission 028: 319–320. ISBN 2-8317-0682-3. 
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!