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Murphy's Petrel Pterodroma ultima
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This species qualifies as Near Threatened because although rats have been eradicated at the largest breeding population, the population continues to slowly decline within its moderately small range.

Taxonomic source(s)
Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
Pterodroma ultima breeds in the Pitcairn Islands (to UK), the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Austral Islands (Garnett 1984) and the Gambier Islands (French Polynesia) (Thibault and Bretagnolle 1999) and perhaps in the Cook Islands. In the Pitcairns, an estimated 2,500 (± 500) breed on Henderson, 12,500 (± 2,500) on Oeno, and 250,000 (± 29,000) on Ducie (Brooke 1995a). In the Tuamotus, colonies occur on Mururoa and Fangataufa (Holyoak and Thibault 1984), although these may have disappeared owing to nuclear tests and the recent construction of an airstrip (V. Bretagnolle in litt. 1999, J.-C. Thibault in litt. 2000). In the Australs, it breeds only on a limited number of islets off Rapa where the population was estimated at 10-100 pairs in 1990 (Thibault and Varney 1991). In the Gambiers, proof of breeding was found for the first time on Manui and numbers were estimated at 5-10 pairs (Thibault and Bretagnolle 1999). In the Cook Islands, a specimen was collected probably from Rarotonga or perhaps one of the other southern Cook Islands, between c.1899 and 1904 (Gill 1996). In 2009, 2 pairs were reported nesting on Easter Island (M. Martin in litt. 2011). Non-breeding dispersal is poorly known but mostly north as far as north-west Hawaiian chain in west, yet frequently seen in eastern tropical Pacific as far as Californian current.

Population justification
Brooke (2004)

Trend justification
There are no data, however the species is presumably declining slowly due to predation of eggs and young by rats.

Has been recorded nesting in rocky cliffs during March. On Henderson Island, has been recorded nesting in woodland behind beaches or in low fern scrub close to the island’s cliffs. Nesting is seasonal, with egg-laying between late May and early July. 50-day incubation period is completed in three stints. The male takes the first stint, averaging 19.3 days, following a similar stint by the female, and then the male for the second time. Egg-hatching normally occurs towards the end of the male’s second stint (Brooke 2010). Off-duty birds calculated as having a foraging radius of 4,600 km, potentially accessing highly productive Antarctic Polar Front, 6,500 km to the south (Brooke 2010). Even rich waters off California, 6,500 km to north, could be reached if the birds flew for more than 12 hours a day and birds are seen most often in those waters during the incubation months of June and July (Brooke 2010). Breeding sites are completed abandoned during the non-breeding period, after November (Anon. 2007). They feed mainly at sea on cephalopods, fish and small crustacea (Anon. 2007).

Pacific rat Rattus exulans is present on some islands, and causes low breeding success on Henderson in particular, less than 5% (Brooke 1995a, 2010). The Henderson population could be sustained through immigration from other colonies but there is no evidence that this occurs (Brooke 2010). The species is potentially threatened by climate change because it has a geographically bounded distribution: it is restricted to an island or islands with a maximum altitude of 33 m (BirdLife International unpublished data). There is no information on trends.

Conservation Actions Underway
Although the species breeds at a small number of locations and may be declining at some of these, the recent eradication of rats on Ducie (Bell and Bell 1998) secures the largest population. Following a feasibility study (Brooke and Towns 2008) a rat eradication operation was carried out on Henderson Island in August 2011 (J. Hall in litt. 2012). A follow-up monitoring expedition is planned for 2013 to assess the success of the rat eradication.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the Ducie population. Continue searches for the species in the Tuamotus (V. Bretagnolle in litt. 1999). Continue the programme of Pacific rat eradication on Henderson. 

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Bell, B.; Bell, D. 1998. Pitcairn paradise preserved. World Birdwatch 20: 8-11.

Brooke, M. 2010. Important Bird Areas: Henderson Island. British Birds 103: 428-444.

Brooke, M. De L. 1995. The breeding biology of the gadfly petrels Pterodroma spp. of the Pitcairn Islands: characteristics, population sizes and controls. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 56: 213-231.

Brooke, M. De L. 2004. Albatrosses and petrels across the world. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Brooke, M. de L. and Towns, D. R. 2008. A Feasibility Study for the Eradication of Kiore Rattus exulans from Henderson Island. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: Sandy, UK.

Garnett, M. C. 1984. Conservation of seabirds in the South Pacific region: a review. In: Croxall, J.P.; Evans, P.G.H.; Schreiber, R.W. (ed.), Status and conservation of the world's seabirds, pp. 547-558. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Gill, B. J. 1996. Notes on certain Cook Island birds. Notornis 43: 154-159.

Holyoak, D. T.; Thibault, J. -C. 1984. Contribution à l'étude des oiseaux de Polynésie orientale. Memoires du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle - Serie A: Zoologie 127: 1-209.

Thibault, J.-C.; Bretagnolle, V. 1999. Breeding seabirds of Gambier Islands, Eastern Polynesia: numbers and changes during the 20th century. Emu 99: 100-107.

Thibault, J.-C.; Varney, A. 1991. Breeding seabirds of Rapa (Polynesia): numbers and changes during the 20th century. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 111: 70-77.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Anderson, O., Calvert, R., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A.

Bretagnolle, V., Thibault, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pterodroma ultima. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Murphy's petrel (Pterodroma ultima) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Procellariidae (Petrels, Shearwaters)
Species name author Murphy, 1949
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 52,100,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species