A massive decline during 1950–2010 in global seabird populations

14 Oct 2015 - 11:37 -- Eduardo de Juana

An assessment of the population trends of the world’s seabirds, taking into account populations monitored at least five times in 1950–2010, reveals a long-term and large-scale population decline, of almost 70%#R. Since the sample used represents approximately 19% of the global seabird population, this declining trend may reflect the global seabird population trend. However, a substantial proportion of this loss was due to large declines in the five most abundant populations, all located in the southern hemisphere. Between them, the populations of the Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscatus) from French Polynesia and South Orkney, the South Sandwich Island populations of both the Soft-plumaged Petrel (Pterodroma mollis) and Kerguelen Petrel (Aphrodroma brevirostris), and the Peruvian population of the Guanay Cormorant (Phalacrocorax bougainvilliorum) accounted for over 30% of the total numbers of seabirds in the sampled population in 1950, and all of these populations had declined to less than 5% of their initial size by 2010.

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Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscatus)

Taxonomy:

Sterna fuscata

Linnaeus, 1766, Santo Domingo.

Formerly united with O. anaethetus and O. lunatus in separate genus Haliplana. Geographical variation subtle: kermadeci...

Descriptive notes: 36–45 cm; 147–240 g, mean 173 g in Australia and on Kiritimati I (Christmas I, in Pacific), 175 g on Ascension I, 189 g in Dry Tortugas; wingspan 82–94 cm. Distinctive black-and-white tern with long wings and long tail...
figure, drawing, illustration of Sooty Tern (Onychoprion fuscatus)

Soft-plumaged Petrel (Pterodroma mollis)

Taxonomy:

Procellaria mollis

Gould, 1844, south Atlantic Ocean, latitude 20° S to 40° S.

Formerly considered conspecific with P. feae and P. madeira. Has sometimes been split into two subspecies, with dubia or ...

Descriptive notes: 32–37 cm; 250–380 g; wingspan 83–95 cm (wingspan measurements refer to P. mollis, P. feae and P. madeira). Greyish gadfly petrel with dark mask, white abdomen and rather uniform grey underwing. Nominate race has...
figure, drawing, illustration of Soft-plumaged Petrel (Pterodroma mollis)

Kerguelen Petrel (Aphrodroma brevirostris)

Taxonomy:

Procellaria brevirostris

Lesson, 1831, no locality; type from Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

Sometimes included in genus Pterodroma. Recent genetic data support treatment in separate genus, and also indicate that it is closer to ...

Descriptive notes: 33–36 cm; 255–451 g; wingspan 80–82 cm. Rather uniform, relatively stocky grey bird with large head and small bill, thus wings can look relatively small in lateral view. Head and upperparts, including upperwing...
figure, drawing, illustration of Kerguelen Petrel (Aphrodroma brevirostris)

Guanay Cormorant (Leucocarbo bougainvilliorum)

Taxonomy:

Carbo Bougainvillii

Lesson, 1837, Valparaíso, Chile.

Sometimes placed in genus Phalacrocorax, but classification here follows results of a comprehensive molecular phylogeny for the entire family...

Descriptive notes: 71–76 cm; male 2100–3222 g. Slender-bodied and long-billed. Adult has erectile crest on crown, while most of head, neck and back to uppertail-coverts are black glossed bluish or greenish in some lights, the head and neck...
figure, drawing, illustration of Guanay Cormorant (Leucocarbo bougainvilliorum)