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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Component

SummaryThe light mantled albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata) is also known as the light mantled sooty albatross. They are a migratory species of birds that inhabit much of the circumpolar region. They are categorized as Near-Threatened by the IUCN due to concerns that the species may be declining from being incidentally caught on fisheries long-lines and being preyed upon by introduced predators. Despite IUCN listing, threats and population status remain poorly known. There are 19,000-24,000 estimated breeding pairs globally. They breed biennially with the major breeding grounds at the following islands: South Georgia (5000-7500), Kerguelen (3000-5000), Auckland (5000) and Campbell (1600). They also breed at Macquarie (1250) and Heard Island (200-500). (Source: See BirdLife Species Factsheet for Light-mantled albatross, 2014; ACAP species assessment for Light-mantled albatross, 2012).
SubtypeNatural Resource Unit
SectorMarine protected areas
Commons AggregationPopulation
ExplanationThe light mantled albatross is a species of albatross found throughout the circumpolar region.
Commons BoundariesSomewhat unclear boundaries (2)
ExplanationThe general boundaries are fairly well defined to include the circumpolar region; but they are somewhat fuzzy at the margins.
Commons Indicator["Status of highly migratory species"]
ExplanationThe light mantled albatross is a migratory seabird found in the circumpolar region of Antarctica. Birds breed on sub-Antarctic islands such as Macquarie island and forage on average up to 1,500 km south from breeding sites with a total distance travelled of over 6,000km in 10-15 days (Weimerskirch & Robertson 1994). Total distribution size has been estimated at 12,600 km-2 (BirdLife Fact Sheet 2014). Used as a highly migratory species indicator for Macquarie and Heard and McDonald Islands due to its prevalence at both locations. Compared to the estimated population size of this species (19,000-24,000 breeding pairs), a significant proportion of the population breeds at Macquarie (~1250 pairs) and Heard (200-500 pairs).
Commons Unit SizeSmall (2)
ExplanationWingspan can be over 2 meters; and they typically weigh between 2.5 and 4 kilograms.
Environmental MediumOceanic
ExplanationNests on land; but spends a considerable amount of lifecycle foraging in the open ocean and coastal areas.
Inter Annual PredictabilityModerate (2)
ExplanationAvailability across years is somewhat unpredictable because they are biennial breeders and do not return each year. Further, breeding sites are on remote and difficult to access subantarctic islands. At many of these islands, scientists are not able to collect data regularly and often the actual location of the nests can be difficult to access. Estimates suggest that the population at Macquarie might be more predictable than others and also that its more stable. Other sites exhibit considerable variability or uncertainty. For example, the population at Heard Island has been estimated at 200-500 nesting pairs, but its difficult for scientists to find all of the nests and the birds often nest in new and different areas. Note that the last survey of this species at Macquarie was conducted in 2005 (ACAP 2012) and at Heard Island in 2003/04 season (Green and Woehler 2006).
Intra Annual PredictabilityMissing
ExplanationNot enough information to assess intra annual predictability.
Commons RenewabilityRenewable (1)
ProductivityNot Applicable
Commons AccessibilitySomewhat accessible (2)
ExplanationLight-mantled albatross are not currently targeted by human harvesting efforts. However, they overlap with Antarctic species and may be taken as bycatch by tuna and toothfish fishers. They represented 6% of total seabird bycatch by tuna longliners between 1988-1997 in New Zealand (ACAP 2012), but less so in recent years. The Macquarie Island toothfish fisheries had zero seabird by catch (as of 2013), and the HIMI fisheries reported only 3 seabirds overall (none of which were light mantled albatross).
Commons HeterogeneityHigh (3)
ExplanationHigh site fidelity to breeding site (low heterogeneity); but for much of life cycle are distributed widely.
Commons MobilityHigh (3)
ExplanationLight mantled albatross have been known to travel up to 1500 km from breeding sites to forage; and a total distance of over 6000km (Weimerskirch & Robertson 1994).
Commons Spatial Extent1700000
ExplanationEstimates suggest that birds from Macquarie island forage on average 1516 km from the island in the direction of Antarctica. Assuming a radius of 750km this corresponds to a total spatial extent of 1.7 million sq km, but species occurs in areas up to 44.3 million sq km. This estimate should be taken as the minimum spatial extent and values likely exceed this number considerably.
Technical Substitute 
ExplanationDoes not serve an important or valued economic function