This species has been downlisted from Vulnerable as analysis of recent data suggests that its population is not undergoing rapid on-going declines and is either stable or increasing. However, modelling of the likely effects of mortality caused by longline fishing fleets, combined with potential losses to breeding colonies from sea-level rise and storm surges, suggests it is appropriate to precautionarily predict a moderately rapid population decline over the next three generations (56 years), hence its classification as Near Threatened rather than Least Concern.
Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. 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.
Robertson, C. J. R.; Nunn, G. B. 1998. Towards a new taxonomy for albatrosses. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, R. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 13-19. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.
Diomedea nigripes Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Diomedea nigripes Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994), Diomedea nigripes Stotz et al. (1996), Diomedea nigripes Turbott (1990)
Identification. 68-74 cm. Small, all dark albatross, uppertail coverts normally white. Dark bill, dark legs. Juvenile, even more uniform brown. Similar species. None within range.
In 2003, estimated rates of incidental mortality in longline fisheries in the North Pacific Ocean (based on a moderate bycatch scenario of 8,000 birds being killed per year) resulted in a projected future decline of more than 60% over the next three generations (56 years), if bycatch mortality was not reduced through mitigation measures (Lewison and Crowder 2003). However, the demographic parameters for Lewison and Crowder’s (2003) model, namely survival probability, growth probability and fecundity, were based on data from the 1960s and 1970s, for which it was incorrectly assumed that no bycatch took place (Arata et al. 2009). This implies that the basic parameters for a stable population with no additional mortality were actually estimated from a population already experiencing significant bycatch, and were thus underestimated. This appears to have led to an overestimation of the declines that would result from the annual bycatch scenarios tested by Lewison and Crowder (2003), by counting this source of mortality both within the demographic parameter estimates and within the simulation scenario, effectively doubling the impact of fisheries (Arata et al. 2009). Nevertheless, likely bycatch levels are still predicted to cause a decline in the population, albeit not as rapid as previously projected (Arata et al. 2009). Other studies on this species have confirmed the impact of fisheries bycatch on survival (Verán et al. 2007) and the annual population growth rate (Niel and Lebreton 2005). Annual bycatch was estimated at 5,228 birds in 2005, which, if doubled to account for underestimation, approaches the maximum Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level of 11,980 birds, which is calculated to be the maximum level of off-take possible without causing a decline (Arata et al. 2009). The maximum PBR level for this species has also been estimated at 8,850 birds per year (Niel and Lebreton 2005) and 10,000 birds per year (Cousins and Cooper 2000).
It still remains necessary to robustly model the future impact of bycatch on this species. In the meantime, given the risk of bycatch approaching PBR, and potential risk to nesting habitat from sea-level rise (Storlazzi et al. 2013), it seems appropriate to precautionarily project future declines approaching 30% over the next 56 years (three generations).
Related state of the world's birds case studies
Arata, J. A.; Sievert, P. R.; Naughton, M. B. 2009. Status assessment of Laysan and black-footed albatrosses, North Pacfic Ocean, 1923-2000. U. S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5131. U. S. Geological Survey, Reston.
Auman, H. J.; Ludwig, J. P.; Summer, C. L.; Verbrugge, D. A.; Froese, K. L.; Colborn, T.; Giesy, J. P. 1997. PCBs, DDE, DDT and TCDD-EQ in two species of albatross on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, North Pacific Ocean. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 16: 498-504.
BirdLife International. 2004. Tracking ocean wanderers: the global distribution of albatrosses and petrels. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.
Carboneras, C. 1992. Diomedeidae (Albatrosses). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 198-215. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Cousins, K. L. 1998. Black-footed Albatross population biology workshop. 'Elepaio 58: 47-53.
Cousins, K.; Cooper, J. 2000. The population biology of the Black-footed Albatross in relation to mortality caused by longline fishing. Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, Honolulu.
Croxall, J. P.; Gales, R. 1998. Assessment of the conservation status of albatrosses. In: Robertson, G.; Gales, R. (ed.), Albatross biology and conservation, pp. 46-65. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, Australia.
Fernandez, P.; Anderson, D. J.; Sievert, P. R.; Huyvaert, K. P. 2001. Foraging destinations of three low-latitude albatross (Phoebastria) species. Journal of Zoology (London) 254: 391-404.
Finkelstein, M. E.; Grasman, K. A.; Croll, D. A.; Tershy, B. R.; Keitt, B. S.; Jarman, W. M.; Smith, D. R. 2007. Contaminant associated with alteration of immune function in Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), a North Pacific predator. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 26: 1896-1903.
Flint, E. 2007. Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge - annual nest counts through hatch year 2007.
Gilman, E.; Freifeld, H. 2003. Seabird mortality in North Pacific longline fisheries. Endangered Species Update 20: 35-46.
Gould, P. J.; Hobbs, R. 1993. Population dynamics of the Laysan and other albatrosses in the North Pacific. North Pacific Fisheries Commission Bulletin 53: 485-497.
Harrison, C. S. 1990. Seabirds of Hawaii: natural history and conservation. Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London.
Harrison, C. S.; Hida, T. S.; Seki, M. P. 1983. Hawaiian seabird feeding ecology. Wildlife Monographs 85: 1-71.
Hasegawa, H. 1984. Status and conservation of seabirds in Japan, with special attention to the Short-tailed Albatross. In: Croxall, J.P.; Evans, P.G.H.; Schreiber, R.W. (ed.), Status and conservation of the world's seabirds, pp. 487-500. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.
Hyrenbach, K. D.; Dotson, R. C. 2001. Post-breeding movements of a male Black-footed Albatross Phoebastria nigripes. Marine Ornithology 29: 7-10.
Hyrenbach, K. D.; Dotson, R. C. 2003. Assessing the susceptibility of female black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) to longline fisheries during their post-breeding dispersal: an integrated approach. Biological Conservation 112: 391-404.
Hyrenbach, K. D.; Fernez, P.; Anderson, D. J. 2002. Oceanographic habitats of two sympatric North Pacific albatrosses during the breeding season. Marine Ecology Progress Series 233: 283-301.
Hyrenbach, K. D.; Keiper, C.; Allen, S. G.; Ainley, D. G.; Anderson, D. J. 2006. Use of marine sanctuaries by far-ranging predators: commuting flights to the California Current System by breeding Hawaiian albatrosses. Fisheries Oceanography 15: 95-103.
IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.2). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 13 November 2013).
Johnson, D. H.; Shaffer, T. L.; Gould, P. J. 1993. Incidental catch of marine birds in the north Pacific high seas driftnet fisheries in 1990. North Pacific Fisheries Commission Bulletin 53: 473-483.
Jones, H.P., Tershy, B.R., Zavaleta, E.S., Croll, D.A., Keitt, B.S., Finkelstein, M.E. and Howald, G.R. 2008. Severity of the effects of invasive rats on seabirds: a global review. Conservation Biology 22(1): 16-26.
Jones, P. D.; Hannah, D. J.; Buckland, S. J.; Day, P. J.; Lethem, S. V.; Porter, L. J.; Auman, H. J.; Sanderson, J. T.; Summer, C.; Ludwig, J. P.; Colborn, T. L.; Giesy, J. P. 1996. Persistent synthetic chlorinated hydrocarbons in albatross tissue samples from Midway Atoll. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 15: 1793-1800.
Lewison, R. L.; Crowder, L. B. 2003. Estimating fishery bycatch and effects on a vulnerable seabird population. Ecological Applications 13: 743-753.
Naughton, M. B; Romano, M. D.; Zimmerman, T. S. 2007. A Conservation Action Plan for Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) and Laysan Albatross (P. immutabilis).
Niel, C. and Lebreton, J.D. 2005. Using demographic invariants to detect overharvested bird populations from incomplete data. Conservation Biology 19(3): 826-835.
Storlazzi, C. D.; Berkowitz, P.; Reynolds, M. H.; Logan, J. B. 2013. Forecasting the Impact of Storm Waves and Sea-Level Rise on Midway Atoll and Laysan Island within the Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument - A Comparison of Passive Versus Dynamic Inundation Models. U.S. Department of the Interior; U.S. Geological Survey.
Veran, S.; Gimenez, O.; Flint, E.; Kendall, W. L.; Doherty, P. F.; Lebreton, J. 2007. Quantifying the impact of longline fisheries on adult survival in the Black-footed Albatross. Journal of Applied Ecology 44: 942-952.
Walsh, H. E.; Edwards, S. V. 2003. Conservation genetics and Pacific fisheries bycatch: Mitrochondrial differentiation and population assignment in black-footed albatrosses (Phoebastria nigripes). Conservation Genetics 6: 289-295.
Whittow, G. C. 1993. Black-footed Albatross (Diomedia nigripes). In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 65, pp. 1-16. The Academy of Natural Sciences and The American Ornithologists Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
Further web sources of information
Additional information is available on the distribution of the Black-footed Albatross from the Global Procellariiform Tracking Database (http://www.seabirdtracking.org)
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Small, C., Sullivan, B., Taylor, J. & Symes, A.
Flint, B., Gales, R., Gilman, E., Harrison, C., Lewison, R., Misiak, W., Mitchell, L., Nel, D., Nisbet, I., Phillips, R., Rivera, K. & Shaffer, S.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Phoebastria nigripes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/09/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/09/2014.
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
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Additional resources for this species
|Current IUCN Red List category||Near Threatened|
|Species name author||(Audubon, 1849)|
|Population size||mature individuals|
|Distribution size (breeding/resident)||29 km2|
|Links to further information|
|- Additional Information on this species|