Abbott's Booby ABBOTT'S BOOBY

The Abbott's Booby (Papasula abbotti) is highly threatened. The species was quite common in the Indian Ocean during the last century but it has almost been fully eradicated by hunting and by destruction of its breeding habitat. Today, the Abbott's Booby occurs only on Christmas Island. Its population is estimated at 5,000 individuals and is declining: Since 1970 the last remaining population on Christmas Island has decreased by nearly 40 %. Consequently, the species is listed as "endangered" on the Red List of Endangered Species of the IUCN and is an "Alliance for Zero Extinction" species.

The reasons for the population decline are unknown. As the animals and their breeding habitat are protected on Christmas Island, it is likely that the birds are exposed to acute threats in their marine habitat. However, only little is known about the behaviour of the species at sea, such as their foraging behaviour and prey species, and there is currently not enough information to evaluate the threats to the birds and develop effective protection measures.

These crucial data are collected in the Christmas Island Seabird Project: For example, adult boobies are equipped with data loggers and satellite transmitters to examine foraging areas and migration movements. Juveniles are also equipped with satellite tags to determine their foraging habitats after fledging and to find out whether the dispersing young are exposed to specific threats on their first trips. By regular nest monitoring and banding of adults and chicks, reproductive success and population dynamics are investigated. On the basis of this information, efficient conservation actions can be developed.