Gough Island

Year of compilation: 2021

Site description
The site comprises the whole of Gough Island as well as the offshore islets and stacks, as described in the ‘General introduction’.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species, but note that some of the information is outdated and taxonomy has changed. The site has been described as ‘a strong contender for the title of most important seabird colony in the world’. As many as 54 bird taxa are recorded, of which 20 are non-breeding seabirds and two are endemic landbirds. The seabirds include Eudyptes moseleyi, Diomedea dabbenena, Thalassarche chlororhynchos, Phoebetria fusca, Macronectes giganteus, Pterodroma brevirostris, P. macroptera, P. mollis, P. incerta, Pachyptila vittata, Pachyptila macgillivrayi, Halobaena caeruleaProcellaria cinerea, Ardenna gravis, Puffinus elegans, Garrodia nereis, Pelagodroma marina, Fregetta grallaria, Pelecanoides urinatrix, Catharacta antarctica, Sterna vittata and the southernmost breeding site of Anous stolidus. The terrestrial species are Gallinula comeri and Rowettia goughensis (1550–2500 individuals, 2020 estimate). Non-breeding visitors include Thalassarche melanophris, Macronectes halli, Fulmarus glacialoides, Daption capense, Pachyptila desolata, Procellaria aequinoctialis, Procellaria conspicillata, Ardenna griseus, Oceanites oceanicus, Fregetta tropica, Bubulcus ibis, Hirundo rustica and Larus dominicanus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Arctocephalus tropicalis (200,000 individuals and increasing) and Mirounga leonina (< 50 individuals) are the only two native breeding mammals. Of 100 free-living species of terrestrial invertebrates recorded, at least eight are endemic, while 14 are native to the Dependency as a whole. Only eight species of freshwater invertebrates are known.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
In 1976 Gough Island was declared a Wildlife Reserve and in 1997 it was renamed a Nature Reserve and its boundaries were extended to 12 nautical miles. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1995. Principal threats include unlicensed fishing within the reserve, the illegal use of drift-nets, pollution from the meteorological station (now minimal), pollutants from vessels passing through territorial waters, the introduction of alien organisms (especially mammalian predators, the main threat), fires and disturbance. Invasive house mice have severely decimated seabird populations through the predation of chicks and adults.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
In 2021, a mouse eradication was carried out on Gough Island to remove this invasive species.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gough Island. Downloaded from on 01/07/2022.