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Black-footed Albatross (1 Viewer)

Richard Klim

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Dierickx, Shultz, Sato, Hiraoka & Edwards (in press). Morphological and genomic comparisons of Hawaiian and Japanese Black-footed Albatrosses (Phoebastria nigripes) using double digest RADseq: implications for conservation. Evol Appl. [abstract] [pdf]

Walsh & Edwards 2005. Conservation genetics and Pacific fisheries bycatch: Mitochondrial differentiation and population assignment in black-footed albatrosses (Phoebastria nigripes). Conserv Genet 6(2): 289–295. [pdf]

Awkerman, Anderson & Whittow 2008 (BNA Online)...
Geographic Variation
The vast bulk (>95%) of the world population breeds in Hawaii, and most of the remainder breed off Japan..., although the species has bred off Baja California (Pitman and Ballance 2002) and in the Marshall Islands (Naughton et al. 2007). Morphological variation between the two main populations (Hawaii and Japan) is slight, but Japanese birds are smaller in some traits (Edwards et al. 2001:123). Mensural variation in North Pacific albatrosses can evolve relatively rapidly (Eda et al. 2006), perhaps owing to the isolated breeding sites and high philopatry of these species. Regardless, the two populations have been isolated long enough to have evolved genetic (mtDNA) differences (Walsh and Edwards 2005).

Subspecies
None. Whether morphology of Japanese breeders is diagnosably smaller or merely smaller on average requires further study. If the former, the Japanese birds are, by definition, an undescribed and unnamed subspecies. On the basis of type localities ("North Pacific" or Hawaii), names already in the literature, which include P. gibbosa (Gould, 1844), P. brachyura (Gray, 1844), and P. chinensis (Rothschild,1893), can only be junior synonyms of P. nigripes (Audubon, 1839) [type locality = Pacific Ocean at 30° 44' N, 146° W]. P. n. reischekia Mathews, 1930, described as being like nominate P. n. nigripes but smaller, may be available, but its type locality (New Zealand) is from the species' wintering grounds so it is unknown if it jibes with breeders of Japan. Still, the 425-mm wing given by Mathews (1930) is appreciably shorter than values of Hawaiian birds given by Loomis (1918): Male 488–533 mm (mean = 515 mm, n = 23); Female 485–530 mm (506 mm, n = 43).

Carboneras et al 2014 (HBW Alive).
 
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l_raty

laurent raty
Dierickx et al. in press:
The wing chord of the Japanese individuals was on average 9.1 mm shorter, a 1.8% difference, although this result was not statistically significant at the 0.05 level (F1,29 = 1.804).
Perhaps not really small enough to "jibe" with Mathew's name [OD], then...?


On the basis of type localities ("North Pacific" or Hawaii), names already in the literature, which include P. gibbosa (Gould, 1844), P. brachyura (Gray, 1844), and P. chinensis (Rothschild,1893), can only be junior synonyms of P. nigripes (Audubon, 1839) [type locality = Pacific Ocean at 30° 44' N, 146° W].
Diomedea gibbosa Gould 1844 [OD]: type locality "North Pacific"; wing 21'' = 533 mm: seems to be in the upper range of the variation, so presumably not a Japanese bird indeed.
(OTOH, I'm not fully clear how a simple "North Pacific" statement could exclude a Japan-born bird. Nor am I actually fully clear why Audubon's nigripes [OD], based on a wintering bird collected at sea on a Christmas day, roughly 1,500 km away from the Hawaiian colonies, is undoubtedly a Hawaii-born bird.)
The other two names cited in this quote do not exist at all, I believe--they are both misapplications (cited by Salvin 1896 [here]) of names authored by Temminck, both based on the same Planche coloriée #963 and denoting the Short-tailed Albatross:
- Diomedea chinensis Temminck 1820 [OD]; "Diomedea chinensis Temm." apud Rotschild [here];
- Diomedea brachiura Temminck 1827 [OD]; "Diomedea brachyura Temm." apud Gray [here].
 
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Richard Klim

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...I'm not fully clear how a simple "North Pacific" statement could exclude a Japan-born bird. Nor am I actually fully clear why Audubon's nigripes [OD], based on a wintering bird collected at sea on a Christmas day, roughly 1,500 km away from the Hawaiian colonies, is undoubtedly a Hawaii-born bird.
Indeed!

Incidentally, it's interesting that Awkerman et al refer to the type locality of P. n. reischekia Mathews, 1930 (New Zealand) as "from the species' wintering grounds". According to Onley & Scofield 2007, there is only a single Southern Hemisphere record (from NZ) – presumably the individual described by Mathews...? – although Carboneras 1992 mentions that it has also been recorded off the Galápagos Is (marginally in the S Hemisphere!), but not accepted by AOU-SACC ("One undocumented sight report in Ecuadorean waters (Harris 1968). Wiedenfeld (2006) listed three potential records for the Galapagos islands, but none has been documented.").

PS. OSNZ 2010: "Only one New Zealand record: Dusky Sound, Jul. 1884, in the Reischek collection (i.e. at Naturhistorisches Museum Wien; Oliver 1955)."
 
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PScofield

Well-known member
Haha - old Gregory Mathews approach of describing every specimen as a separate taxa is really paying off in the era of genomics!

There is a second Antipodean record that has been ignored. Oliver 1955 states whilst discussing the New Zealand specimens that, in Vienna, "there is another specimens of the species labelled New Holland".

The NZ record was ignored for many years but given the having seen this specimen I see no reason to doubt it Andreas Reischek was a pretty careful observer and collector (on the whole). A simple toe pad test should suffice.

Paul
 

l_raty

laurent raty
Wouldn't anybody have measured this specimen again? 425 mm actually seems to be outside of the variation for any albatross (10% below the lower limit; it's the wing length of a Herring Gull)--so I'd think that the value given by Mathews is quite likely to be incorrect.

HANZAB:
One specimen collected Dusky Sound, NZ, July 1884 by A. Reischek and held in Reischek collection in Vienna Museum (Mathews 1930; NZCL; Oliver). Apparently the only record ever made in s. hemisphere, though in Vienna Museum another specimen is labelled New Holland (Oliver).
But Watola 2011 (The Discovery of New Zealand’s Birds, 3rd ed. in prep.) is more critical:
One was collected by A. Reischek in Dusky Sound in July 1884 (Mathews 1930). This remains the only known occurrence south of the equator, along with a specimen labelled “New Holland” in the Vienna Museum. This still seems an extremely unlikely occurrence, not withstanding the specimen. Reischek’s other odd records included Common Noddy (some doubt) and White Tern (still accepted). Reischek wrote of his time in Dusky Sound – “Diomedea exudans, Diomedea melanophrys, Diomedea chlororhyncha, Diomedea fuliginosa, Ossifraga gigantea, Haladroma urinatriw, Procellaria capensis, Prion turtur: all these species are not rare” (Reischek 1888).
The presence of a New Holland specimen casts some doubt on this record. Mislabelling may have occurred, as for some other specimens of Reischeks’. Mathews of course named the specimen as a new subspecies.
 

Richard Klim

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It's certainly remarkable that there should be two historical specimens from the Antipodes (presumably captured at sea) and yet no other sight records of this large and rather easily identified seabird.
 

l_raty

laurent raty
Reischek published quite a few papers about the birds he collected in NZ (list on pp. 43-45 in Aubrecht 1995 [pdf]). Did he say something about this bird?

To make his memory justice I have to note that, contra Watola 2011, whose text I quoted above:
- he never wrote: "Diomedea exudans, Diomedea melanophrys, Diomedea chlororhyncha, Diomedea fuliginosa, Ossifraga gigantea, Haladroma urinatriw, Procellaria capensis, Prion turtur: all these species are not rare."
- he did write: "Diomedea exulans, Diomedea melanophrys, Diomedea chlororhyncha, Diomedea fuliginosa, Ossifraga gigantea, Haladroma urinatrix, Procellaria capensis, Prion turtur: all these species are not rare."
(And this was in 1884, not in 1888. [here] ;))
 

PScofield

Well-known member
It's certainly remarkable that there should be two historical specimens from the Antipodes (presumably captured at sea) and yet no other sight records of this large and rather easily identified seabird.

Richard Actually I don't think this is very unusual at all.

Note that :

"Over the 150 years, Laysan (Phoebastria immutabilis) and black-footed (Phoebastria nigripes) albatrosses have been subjected to high rates of mortality and disturbance at the breeding colonies and at sea. Populations were greatly reduced and many colonies were extirpated around the turn of the 20th century as a result of feather hunting. Populations were recovering when military occupation of several breeding islands during World War II led to new population declines at these islands and additional colony extirpations." http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2009/5131/

Black-footed Albys may have been regular to the Southern Hemisphere but once the feather trade started their range was considerably reduced. They are only just starting to recover. I note that records of Laysan Albatross from the Southern Hemisphere are only just starting to occur. Hopefully we will get a few Black-foots in the next few years...

Paul
 

Richard Klim

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Black-footed Albys may have been regular to the Southern Hemisphere but once the feather trade started their range was considerably reduced.
Yes, that could indeed be plausible, Paul. I'd (probably mistakenly) assumed that the overall wintering range would be be largely unchanged despite the reduced population.
 
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