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Mortality and Survival in the Laysan Albatross, Diomedea immutabilis

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Title:Mortality and Survival in the Laysan Albatross, Diomedea immutabilis
Authors:Fisher, Harvey I.
Date Issued:Jul 1975
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Fisher HI. 1975. Mortality and survival in the Laysan Albatross, Diomedea immutabilis. Pac Sci 29(3): 279-300.
Abstract:A 13-year study of 27,667 banded Laysan Albatrosses, Diomedea
immutabilis, on Midway Island, North Pacific Ocean, provided specific mortality
rates for each stage of the life cycle.
Egg loss among 6,543 nests averaged 3 to 6 percent in the 1st month of incubation
and reached 25 percent during the 2nd month in some seasons. Chick losses
ranged from 3 to 17 percent of the eggs laid and occurred more or less evenly from
hatching to fledging. Most egg losses were occasioned by desertions by adults, and
most deaths of chicks occurred when one or both parents died.
Approximately 3.5 percent of 4,492 banded, departing fledglings died of starvation
and exhaustion on the beaches. Losses to sharks in the nearby waters were
thought to increase fledgling mortality to perhaps 10 percent before the surviving
young birds reached the open sea.
A mean 6.8 percent of 7,000 juveniles were lost in each of the first 4 years at sea,
but in each of the next 4 years, when the birds were more experienced and had
spent more time in the colonies where there were no natural predators, annual
mortality averaged only 1.8 percent.
Young breeders had a mean annual mortality of 3.7 to 4.0 percent in their first
nine breeding seasons, whereas a total of 3,305 breeders of all ages had a mean
annual mortality of 5.3 to 6.3 percent. There was no consistent sexual variation in
mortality of breeding birds, but in 2 years of low breeding populations females
experienced greater losses.
Prior to the 14th year of life, the stresses of reproduction were perhaps more
significant mortality factors than was age. Age may have been a factor after this,
but not until the years after 20 was there any indication of increased mortality.
Approximately 40 percent of the breeding albatrosses lived to a minimum of
12 years, 30 percent to 14 years, 25 percent to 16 years, 20 percent to 18 years, and
13 percent to 20 or more years.
Laysan Albatrosses may have a breeding life expectancy of some 16 to 18 years.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 29, Number 3, 1975

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