This report presents data on the size of the Gibson's wandering albatross nesting population in 2016, and the key demographic parameters which help identify causes of current population size and trends.
Demographic data was collected from birds nesting and visiting a 61 ha study area on the southern slopes of Adams Island. There has been an improvement in female survival and nesting success. However, survival, productivity and recruitment are all still well below the levels recorded before the 2005 population crash.
The number of nesting birds in three areas representative of high, medium and low density breeding sites which comprise about 10% of the population and which have been counted annually since 1998 were re-counted.
The numbers of birds nesting in 2016 was the highest it has been since the 2005 population crash, probably partly because breeding success in 2015 was low.
A census of nesting pairs was also made in the Astrolabe Basin which was last counted in 2000. The actual number of birds nesting in the wider Astrolabe area was about 8% higher than that estimated using the proportionate change in the annually counted blocks since the last whole-island census. This total probably does not reflect a real increase in numbers but rather more accurate count techniques, and the application of correction factors to daily census totals for late egg laying and early nest failure.
There were estimated to be 5,817 pairs of Gibson's albatross breeding in 2016 compared to 5,527 pairs in the very low 2000 breeding season and 7,857 pairs in 1997.
Elliott, G., Walker, K., Parker, G., Rexer-Huber, K. 2016. Gibson's wandering albatross census and population study 2015/16. Report prepared for the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington. 19p.