Markham's Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma markhami
Version: 2.0 — Published October 29, 2020
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Conservation and Management
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The IUCN Red List conservation status of Markham's Storm-Petrel is assessed as Near Threatened. The species is estimated to have a large population (over 150,000 individuals), but is currently decreasing due to the destruction of the habitat and a high fledgling mortality because of the light pollution in the Atacama Desert.
Effects of Human Activity
Colonies of Markham's Storm-Petrel, in general, are mostly away from human settlement. However, there are several threats:
Light pollution is currently the main threat for this species, with several thousand individuals grounded each year. In the city of Arica, almost 3,000 individuals fall each year, while in the city of Iquique almost 1,000 individuals fall yearly (23). An industrial complex inside and surrounding the breeding colony of Salar Grande has the largest impact, accumulating more than 11,000 grounded birds each year. In the city of Antofagasta, some dozens of individuals fall each year (23).
The effect of vessels' light pollution at sea is unknown.
Breeding Colony Destruction
Despite the colonies being found away from human settlement, almost all colonies face anthropogenic disturbance. Pampa Chuño is threatened by powerlines and solar farms, Pampa Chaca is threatened from garbage, military exercises, and powerlines, and is also crossed by the main highroad of Chile (R5), Pampa Camarones is affected by salt-mining, powerlines, and growth of the energy industry, and Pampa Tana is threatened by military exercises. The colony of Pampa Quiuña and the colony of Caleta Buena (also known as Pampa Perdiz) are also crossed by a road, while the colony of Salar Grande is threatened by road building and salt-mining. Finally, the colony of Salar de Navidad is threatened by the building of wind farms (11, 14).
Offshore threats are poorly studied, but commercial fishing may have some effect on this species (i.e., overexploitation of its food resources; 11).
In Chile, the Environmental Ministry, together with the Red de Observadores de Aves y Vida Silvestre de Chile, led the first Conservation plan for the species. This plan included measures to help reduce the species decline in that country. The actions proposed are:
Breeding Colony Protection
There are trials for creating protected areas in Pampa Chaca and the Salar de Caleta Buena. In addition to these protected areas, there may also be a management plan developed inside military properties for protecting the species.
Light Pollution Regulation
In Chile, the Environmental Ministry is updating its light pollution normative in order to reduce the light pollution in important areas for biodiversity, including around the breeding colonies of this species. In Salar Grande, some big industries made a voluntary agreement to make changes to their illumination system, in order to avoid the massive fallout of fledglings.
Rescue and Release Program
There exists "rescue and release" programs led by local NGOs and governmental agencies in Tacna, Arica, Iquique, and Antofagasta (23). However, it is necessary to assess the survival of released birds.