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Albatross Disease Risk

…the impact of diseases on albatrosses and large petrels

Sooty Albatross
Avian cholera threatens the Sooty Albatross ©Ross Wanless

Seabirds are declining across the world, with albatrosses and large petrels especially threatened. Caught as bycatch by fishing boats, eaten by mice, rats or cats, or killed by plastic pollution, these species face multiple threats. Due to their geographic isolation and dense breeding colonies, they are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of disease, but not much is known about the scale of this danger.

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
Large, dense colonies spread disease in species like the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross ©JJ Harrison

Here, the authors review current knowledge of the impact of diseases on albatrosses and large petrels. They find that diseases are prevalent, with avian cholera posing the greatest threat, and poxvirus commonly found. Yet there is a serious lack of research into diseases in albatrosses and large petrels, particularly in those species that are globally threatened. Further research is urgently needed to ensure that the threat of disease is not overlooked in these highly imperilled species.

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3rd July 2018