August 2014
This report describes the findings of a three-year study on the flesh-footed shearwater population monitoring and at-sea distribution in New Zealand


This report describes the findings of a three-year study on flesh-footed shearwater Puffinus carneipes biology in New Zealand. The project focus was specifically to describe population monitoring and to define the at-sea distribution and habitat use by flesh-footed shearwaters and the potential for foraging birds to interact with fisheries in different regions from their breeding sites. The study was based at three breeding sites in northern and central New Zealand: Lady Alice Island/Mauimua in Northland, Ohinau Island in the Coromandel, and Titi Island in Marlborough.

In addition, the research used marked study burrows at Lady Alice Island/Mauimua, and demographic data from this and Kauwahaia Island, Te Henga/Bethells Beach, West Auckland to explore the estimation of vital rates for flesh-footed shearwaters in New Zealand. An additional banded population of birds was established at Ohinau Island, to enable mark-recapture studies to be undertaken in the future.

The population sizes, nesting densities, and occupancy rates were estimated once for each of our study sites in the period 2012-2014. The colonies of flesh-footed shearwaters were mapped at each site.

Data from a variety of sources was used to examine the range of the species in the New Zealand zone throughout the year, and the species is most concentrated in north eastern North Island waters between Cape Reinga and Mahia Peninsula, and along the continental shelf and near the shelf break. Few birds are sighted south of Cook Strait, with only occasional records of individuals seen on the Chatham Rise or west of Cook Strait. Our GPS tracking of a few birds from Marlborough confirms this distribution. More foraging data from Northland breeding sites and from non-breeding periods are required to gain a comprehensive view of the species distribution.

This report refers to three appendices. These were draft manuscripts that have now been published as the following journal articles:

Publication information

This report was commissioned by the Department of Conservation, Project POP2011-02

By S. Waugh, S. Jamieson, J.-C. Stahl, D. Filippi, G. Taylor, and A. Booth.


Conservation Services Programme
Department of Conservation
PO Box 10-420
Wellington 6143


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