June 2017
This is the final report for the population study and census of Gibson's albatross at Adams Island 2016/17.


Estimates of population size, survivorship, productivity and recruitment were made from a mark-recapture study undertaken in a 61 ha intensively monitored study area.The size and trend of the Gibson's albatross population was estimated by counts of active nests in 3 representative parts of their main breeding grounds on Adams Island which have been re-counted repeatedly since 1998.

The numbers of birds nesting in 2017 was a little lower than the previous year, probably because of relatively high numbers of pairs breeding and high breeding success in 2016, likely due to a strong El Niño.There were estimated to be 4,423 pairs of Gibson's albatross breeding in 2017, about half the number of pairs breeding in 2004 (ie 8,728) before the population crashed.

Proportion breeding and nesting success in Gibson's wandering albatrosses appears related to the large-scale patterns of climate variability, the southern oscillation and the Pacific decadal oscillation.

Survivorship and productivity of Gibson's wandering albatross is improving and the rate of decline of the population has slowed, though the population is still decreasing or is at best stable. However, counts of the number of nesting birds continue to gradually increase because a higher proportion of the birds are chosing to nest.

Even if ocean conditions are favourable in the next few years, as they were in early 2016 due to the strong El Nino, a rapid increase in the size of the breeding population of Gibson's wandering albatross is unlikely as productivity has been low for almost a decade, so there are few young birds available to join the breeding population.

While the conservation status of Gibson's wandering albatross is so poor, monitoring its population structure and trend on Adams Island remains an important conservation priority.

Publication information

Walker K, Elliott, G, Rexer-Huber K, Parker G. 2017. Gibson’s wandering albatross population study and census 2016/17. Report prepared for the Conservation Service Programme, Department of Conservation, Wellington. 17 p.


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


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