State and trends of Antarctic and subantarctic vertebrates

Component
Summary
Grade
Very poor Poor Good Very good
Confidence
In Grade In Trend
Comparability
To previous years

The geographic distribution and species composition of Antarctic fish are reasonably well understood, however, estimates of abundance or population size are available only in some areas for a few commercially harvested species through CCAMLR stock assessments

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Geographic distribution and species composition of Antarctic fish reasonably well understood; however, abundance estimates or population size estimates are not available

Year(s): 
2011
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Toothed whales—sperm

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • In 2011, ‘toothed whales—sperm’, ‘toothed whales—killer’ and ‘toothed whales—other’ were combined in ‘toothed whales’

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Some life history information is available. Modelling of population estimates is still hampered by questions about the effect of the removal of large males in commercial whaling operations. Southern Ocean sperm whales were last examined by the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission in the early 1980s

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Whales found in Antarctic waters include sperm whale and orcas; many species are data-deficient and their populations and trends cannot be estimated

Year(s): 
2011
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Toothed whales—killer

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • In 2011, ‘toothed whales—sperm’, ‘toothed whales—killer’ and ‘toothed whales—other’ were combined in ‘toothed whales’

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Some life history information is available. There are 3 different ecotypes of killer whales, each of which has a different specialised diet. Data on population sizes and dynamics are lacking

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Whales found in Antarctic waters include sperm whale and orcas; many species are data-deficient and their populations and trends cannot be estimated

Year(s): 
2011
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Toothed whales—other

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • In 2011, ‘toothed whales—sperm’, ‘toothed whales—killer’ and ‘toothed whales—other’ were combined in ‘toothed whales’

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Other toothed whales in Antarctic waters include orcas; many species are data-deficient, and their populations and trends cannot be estimated

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Whales found in Antarctic waters include sperm whale and orcas; many species are data-deficient and their populations and trends cannot be estimated

Year(s): 
2011
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Baleen whales—humpback

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • In 2011, ‘baleen whales—humpback’, ‘baleen whales—minke’ and ‘baleen whales—other’ were combined in ‘baleen whales’

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

The humpback is the most-studied baleen whale in the Southern Ocean. Seven breeding stocks are recognised. Highly migratory, their distribution reasonably well understood, but population size and trends insufficiently known

Year(s): 
2016
4
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Includes the Antarctic blue, sei, fin, minke and humpback whales; all but minke whale species are listed by the IUCN on the Red List of Threatened species

Year(s): 
2011
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Baleen whales—minke

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • In 2011, ‘baleen whales—humpback’, ‘baleen whales—minke’ and ‘baleen whales—other’ were combined in ‘baleen whales’

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

This group comprises Antarctic minke (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) and dwarf minke (B. acutorostrata). Dwarf minke was recognised as a separate species only recently. Some evidence of population structure is known based on DNA work. Population sizes and trends are unknown.

There is some evidence that tourism could negatively impact on feeding behaviour and breeding success

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Somewhat adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Includes the Antarctic blue, sei, fin, minke and humpback whales; all but minke whale species are listed by the IUCN on the Red List of Threatened species

Year(s): 
2011
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Baleen whales—other

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • In 2011, ‘baleen whales—humpback’, ‘baleen whales—minke’ and ‘baleen whales—other’ were combined in ‘baleen whales’

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Other baleen whales include the Antarctic blue, sei, fin and humpback whales; all species are listed by the IUCN on the Red List of Threatened Species. Some populations appear to be increasing, but the most recent estimates were made in the early 2000s

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Somewhat adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Somewhat adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not comparable

Includes the Antarctic blue, sei, fin, minke and humpback whales; all but minke whale species are listed by the IUCN on the Red List of Threatened species

Year(s): 
2011
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Populations are apparently abundant and unaffected by human activities; however, much is still unknown, and population trend data are not available. A survey of the crabeater seal population revised the size downwards, but that was because of improved methodologies

Year(s): 
2016
0
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Populations apparently abundant and unaffected by human activities; however, much is still unknown and population trend data are not available

Year(s): 
2011
0
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Low
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Populations are still recovering from sealing exploitation, but are increasing

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Populations still recovering from sealing exploitation, but are increasing

Year(s): 
2011
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

The number of cows at Macquarie Island is still decreasing; reasons are unknown

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Population at Macquarie Island still decreasing; reasons are unknown

Year(s): 
2011
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Listed as vulnerable; only about 10 breeding pairs at Macquarie Island. Commercial fishing operations are a threat

Year(s): 
2016
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Listed as vulnerable; only about 10 breeding pairs at Macquarie Island; commercial fishing operations are a threat

Year(s): 
2011
1
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Adequate
Confidence (in trend): 
Adequate
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

All species are listed by the IUCN because of conservation concerns. Many are caught as bycatch in commercial fisheries

Year(s): 
2016
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

All species are listed by the IUCN because of conservation concerns; many are caught as bycatch in commercial fisheries

Year(s): 
2011
2
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Petrels in Antarctica

This component has changed since 2011:

  • The title has changed from 'Antarctic petrels' to 'Petrels in Antarctica' to clarify that the component being assessed is all petrels in Antarctica, and is not limited to the Antarctic petrel (Thalassoica antarctica)

Long-term population data for these birds are not available; however, they still appear to be abundant

Year(s): 
2016
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Long-term population data for these birds not available; however, they still appear to be abundant

Year(s): 
2011
3
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Long-term population data are available for most species at Macquarie Island; some populations are known to have decreased (e.g. at Macquarie Island). The numbers appear to be increasing after the eradication of cats, rabbits, mice and rats

Year(s): 
2016
2
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Long-term population data not available for most species; however, some populations are known to have decreased (e.g. at Macquarie Island)

Year(s): 
2011
2
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Low
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Antarctic penguins—Adélie

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • In 2011, 'Antarctic penguins—Adélie' and 'Antarctic penguins—emperor' were combined in 'Antarctic penguins'.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

Some evidence exists to show that the breeding distribution has expanded during the past decade, but population counts and trend data are limited to a few sites

Year(s): 
2016
3
Improving
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Overall, penguin populations appear to be stable in the Australian Antarctic Territory; however, long-term monitoring studies are limited to a small number of sites Populations breeding in other areas of Antarctica are showing rapid declines coinciding with decreases in sea ice

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Antarctic penguins—emperor

This assessment summary component has changed from 2011.

  • In 2011, 'Antarctic penguins—Adélie' and 'Antarctic penguins—emperor' were combined in 'Antarctic penguins'.

The original 2011 summary, grade, trend and confidence levels have been replicated here to assist comparison of changes between reporting cycles.

The species was uplisted to near threatened. In East Antarctica, 3 colonies decreased significantly in the 1970s–80s. The trend is ongoing. There are no long-term population data for the remaining colonies

Year(s): 
2016
2
Unclear
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Somewhat comparable

Overall, penguin populations appear to be stable in the Australian Antarctic Territory; however, long-term monitoring studies are limited to a small number of sites Populations breeding in other areas of Antarctica are showing rapid declines coinciding with decreases in sea ice

Year(s): 
2011
4
Stable
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed

Many species appear to suffer population declines, but long-term population data are available for only a few colonies

King penguins appear to be the only species with a growing population

Year(s): 
2016
2
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Comparable

Many species appear to suffer population declines, but long-term population data are available only for a few colonies King penguins appear to be the only species with a growing population

Year(s): 
2011
3
Deteriorating
Confidence (in grade): 
Limited
Confidence (in trend): 
Limited
Comparability (to previous reports): 
Not assessed
Klekociuk A, Wienecke B (2016). Antarctic environment: State and trends of Antarctic and subantarctic vertebrates. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra, https://soe.environment.gov.au/assessment-summary-75-state-and-trends-antarctic-and-subantarctic-vertebrates, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65b2b307c0