a1 Division of Avian Conservation, Yamashina Institute for Ornithology, 115 Konoyama, Abiko 270-1145, Japan.
a2 Anchorage Field Office Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Rd., Anchorage, AK 99503, USA.
a3 Laboratory of Marine Ecology, Graduate School of Fisheries Science, Hokkaido University, 3-1-1 Minato-cho, Hakodate 041-8611, Japan.
a4 Coastal Otago Area Office, Department of Conservation, 77 Stuart Street, Dunedin, New Zealand.
a5 Akan International Crane Center, 23-40 Akan-cho, Kushiro 085-0245, Japan.
Many breeding colonies of Procellariiformes have been threatened with extinction. Chick translocation has been shown to be an effective method for establishing new “safer” colonies of burrow-nesting species, but techniques for surface-nesting species have not been fully developed. The entire breeding population of the threatened Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastoria albatrus is restricted to two sites, Torishima Island and the Senkaku Islands, and neither site is secure due to volcanic activity or political instability. The Short-tailed Albatross Recovery Team has recommended facilitating the recovery of this species by establishing at least one additional colony through the translocation and hand-rearing of chicks at a safe historical breeding site. To evaluate the feasibility of this approach, we hand-reared 10 post-guard phase chicks of two related species in 2006–2007: Laysan Albatross P. immutabilis translocated from Midway Atoll to Kaua’i Island, Hawai’i and Black-footed Albatross P. nigripes translocated from a nearby islet in the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands to Mukojima Island, Japan. In these pilot studies, 40% of Laysan Albatross chicks and 90% of Black-footed Albatross chicks fledged successfully. Following this groundwork, 40 post-guard phase Short-tailed Albatross chicks were translocated from Torishima Island to Mukojima Island in February 2008–2010 and hand-reared to fledging. Their fledging success has been 100% in all three years. Fledging body sizes were similar or greater in hand-reared chicks at the release site than parent-reared chicks on Torishima Island. There were significant differences in levels of some blood chemistry parameters between pre-fledging hand-reared and parent-reared chicks. The techniques developed in our studies have broad-reaching implications for the future conservation of threatened populations of other surface-nesting seabirds.
(Received March 10 2011)
(Accepted June 01 2011)
(Online publication December 16 2011)