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Accession Number 5003449

Title Population dynamics of the Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses

Project Description Recent declining populations of the Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) have aroused

worldwide concern over the incidental catch of this and other protected species by the fishing

industry in the Pacific. The largest nesting population as of 1998 (21,415 pairs) is on Laysan

Island, and the second largest (20,510) is at Midway. In 1990 alone, 4,426 Black-footed

Albatrosses were reported killed in drift nets (McDermond and Morgan 1993). Although this is a

long-lived species, it generally does not breed until 5-8 years of age, and then lays only one egg

per year. During the 1950s and 1960s, USFWS biologists studied the life history of this species

and published results of some of their studies, especially with relation to aircraft strikes and the

distribution of Black-footed and Laysan (P. immutabilis) Albatrosses at sea (Rice and Kenyon

1962, Robbins 1966, Robbins and Rice 1974). However, the population dynamics data have yet to

be analyzed. Analysis of the tens of thousands of recapture records at Midway has until now been

impractical because the species is long lived (40+ years), thousands of worn bands have been

replaced, and multiple records for the same bird have been filed under different band numbers. The

Hawaii USFWS office, in collaboration with NOAA, is currently developing software to link

together the string of records of each bird. This work is nearing completion, so this is an

appropriate time to analyze the recapture data and obtain survival estimates of various segments

of the population of both the Black-footed and the Laysan Albatross. This project will analyze

existing data, the majority of which was collected by the principal investigator.

Keywords black-footed albatross, breeding, laysan albatross, population dynamics, survival,

Principal Chandler S Robbins, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: chan_robbins@usgs.gov; Barbara

Investigators Dowell, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: barbara_dowell@usgs.gov;

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