Prioritising research and management of at-sea threats to New Zealand seabirds
A framework of tools is being developed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation to prioritise research and management of at-sea threats to seabirds. The framework aims to ensure the available knowledge on seabird biology and ecology is adequate to understand and manage at-sea threats to New Zealand seabirds. The approach builds on quantitative fisheries risk assessment approaches, but broadens the scope to all potential threats. The prioritisation framework will collate existing information relevant to risk assessment in order to identify the greatest threats to seabirds. It will identify and prioritise gaps in current knowledge limiting our understanding of at-sea threats, so future research can be focussed on these areas. The framework will include the tools required to facilitate expert guidance to identify the full range of threats to seabirds, and seabird susceptibility. Research gaps will be prioritised by assessing how the current uncertainty around each input parameter influences our ability to project population trajectories. This will allow the identification of research required to improve our understanding of population dynamics, and thus the potential effects of different threats on those populations. Once the range of threats scenarios to any given seabird has been identified, they will be compared using a population modelling tool to quantify their effect on population trajectory. This will allow the prioritisation of threats requiring management. We illustrate the development and potential application of this prioritisation framework using New Zealand breeding albatross taxa.