Palmyra Atoll

Year of compilation: 2012

Site description
Key biodiversity
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Climate change is listed as the third greatest threat to seabirds globally (Croxall et al. 2012). It is predicted to decrease the land area of low-lying Pacific islands and cause complete inundation of some islands (IPCC 1997) leading to substantial population declines (Hatfield et al. 2012). Although no current data or predictions are available specific to this IBA climate change represents a potential threat to this site owing to the risk of future sea level rise leading to inundation, and increased frequency of storms. A team of scientists are in permanent residence on the atoll and are researching the effects climate change could cause to the wildlife. This will not only give indication for Palmyra but for low-lying atolls globally ( In June 2011, personnel and contractors from FWS, TNC, Island Conservation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Geological Survey, successfully carried out the application of bait to remove destructive black rats from the 25 islets that comprise the atoll, while minimizing threats from the bait to other animals. The operations followed extensive planning outlined in FWS’s May 2011 Environmental Impact Statement and was supported by years of scientific research. Comprehensive monitoring will take place over the next two years to assess the status of the eradication effort and how the atoll responds to rat removal. Several researchers returned to the atoll in August and completed the first phase of monitoring. After deploying hundreds of detection devices throughout the atoll, no signs of rats were found ( The success of this rat eradication will not be confirmed until 2013, if it has been successful then Palmyra will be invasive mammal free. If the rat eradication has been unsuccessful or if there are future re-invasions then this would pose a serious threat to bird population present (Atkinson 1985, Jones et al. 2008).

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
There is a permenant team of scientists based on Palmyra Atoll undertaking a range of research programs many relating to conservation. In June 2011 a rat eradication program was carried out across all 25 islands forming the atoll, the success of the will be known in 2013 (

Protected areas
Palmyra Atoll is a US National Wildlife Refuge.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Palmyra Atoll. Downloaded from on 28/01/2022.