Original Articles

Nest Densities of the Wandering Albatross Diomedea Exulans at the Prince Edward Islands, Estimated Using Gps


Abstract

Hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers provide opportunities for detailed and rapid mapping of features, including biological ones, further enhanced by the removal during 2000 of "selective availability". GPS was used to map, describe and compare nest densities within wandering albatross Diomedea exulans colonies at subantarctic Marion and Prince Edward islands. On Prince Edward Island, the coordinates of 1 061 wandering albatross nests were determined and, on Marion Island, 1 779 nests. For describing nest densities of wandering albatrosses, a 50-m grid is recommended, at which scale, the densest area of Prince Edward Island was in Albatross Valley, where the area of the colony was 46 ha and nest density was 22.3 nests ha−1. For Marion Island, the total area of the wandering albatross colonies was 306 ha and the nest density was 5.8 nests ha−1. In the three study colonies there (Macaroni Bay, 28 nests; Sealer's Beach, 117 nests; Goney Plain, 140 nests), the density statistics did not differ greatly from the overall densities on the island, with overall mean densities of 4.9, 5.7 and 8.0 birds ha−1 respectively. Although comparisons with nest densities at other breeding colonies are uncertain because of differing methods of computing them, the nest densities in Albatross Valley lie within the reported ranges for other colonies of great albatrosses.

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