July 2018
This is the final report for the Gibson's wandering albatross population study and census 2017/18.


This report presents data on the size of the Gibson’s wandering albatross nesting population in 2018, and the key demographic parameters of survival, productivity and recruitment which help identify causes of current population size and trends.

Demographic data was collected from birds nesting and visiting a 61-ha study area on the southern slopes of Adams Island. The improvement in nesting success to pre-crash levels noted in 2016 was maintained in 2017, with productivity once again 68%. The survival rate of adult males and females is now similar though it remains below the levels recorded before the 2005 population crash.

The number of birds nesting in three areas representative of high, medium, and low-density breeding sites which comprise about 10% of the population and which have been counted annually since 1998 were re-counted. The numbers of birds nesting in 2018 continued the slow post-crash increase.

The total estimated number of breeding pairs of Gibson's wandering albatrosses in February 2018 was 4,829, a bit more than half the number of pairs breeding in 2004 (i.e., 8,728) before the population crashed in 2005.

The number of females choosing to breed is now roughly equal to the number not breeding, as it was before the crash. Nesting success and the proportion of females breeding each year in Gibson's wandering albatrosses appears related to the large-scale patterns of climate variability, particularly the southern oscillation.

With annual mortality a little higher than it used to be, a total population substantially smaller than it used to be and more than a decade of low chick production, population recovery is likely to be slow.

Publication information

Elliot, G., Walker, K., Parker, G. and Rexer-Huber, K. 2018. Gibson's wandering albatross population study and census 2017/18, June 2018. Report prepared by Albatross Research for the Conservation Services Programme, Department of Conservation. 16p.


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


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