December 13, 2014
Why do Albatross Skip a Breeding Year?
We have previously mentioned that we are waiting to find out if the albatross eggs close to our AlbatrossCam are fertile, but do you know why there is a possibility they may not hatch? Albatross in general have low reproductive rates, each pair only produce one egg and chick at a time. This single egg is also not replaced if it is destroyed or infertile. Also in several species a large number of successful pairs breed only once every second year ('biennial' breeding). There are a number of theories why albatrosses may miss a year in breeding- 1. larger animals breed more slowly, 2. ecological constraints- distant feeding trips are energetically costly, 3. breeding frequency has a strong trade-off with adult survival and age at maturity- slower breeders live through more breeding seasons, 4. incomplete primary feather molts may periodically force them to skip a year of breeding to replace worn flight feathers. Kaluahine and Kaluakane did not breed successfully in 2013. We certainly hope that we will have at least one successful nest within view of the camera. We will keep you posted with help from the wonderful volunteers at KAN. Thanks to Hob Osterlund of KAN for the fantastic image of Kaluahine and Kaluakane on the property on Kauai.