Background information for the Abbott's Booby (Papasula abbotti) Recovery Plan
Based on a document prepared by Penny Olsen (2001)
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2001
About the Abbott's Booby
Abbott's booby is listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). This report provides a background for the Abbott's Booby (Papasula abbotti) Recovery Plan.
Abbott's booby Papasula abbotti is a large, long-lived seabird, with the only known extant nesting colony on Christmas Island. It is an unusual black and white, large-headed, tree-nesting booby, with a distinctive hooked bill. Originally described, as Sula abbotti (Ramsay 1893), from a specimen collected northwest of Madagascar in 1892, it is one of the largest of the seven species in the family Sulidae, the gannets and boobies.
More recently it has been recognised as unique among sulids in osteology (Olson and Warheit 1988), breeding biology and behaviour (Nelson 1971), and lack of distinctive juvenile plumage (Carboneras 1992), and placed in its own genus (Olson and Warheit 1988; Christidis and Boles 1994). It is thought to be the most primitive Sulidae, a family that belongs to one of the most ancient bird orders, probably originating in the late Cretaceous, more than 60 million years ago (Carboneras 1992).