Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Recovery of seabirds to vertebrate management on Macquarie

Brothers, N. & Bone, C. (2008) The response of burrow-nesting petrels and other vulnerable bird species to vertebrate pest management and climate change on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 142, 123-148

Pest species management is causing rapid and significant changes to burrow-nesting petrel populations on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. The Weka, Gallirallus australis, was eliminated by 1989 and the Feral Cat, Felis catus, eradicated in 2000. The most abundant burrownesting petrel species currently, White-headed Petrels, Pterodroma lessonii, Antarctic Prions, Pachyptila desolata, and Sooty Shearwaters, Puffinus griseus, have yet to increase in numbers, but are expected to do so in the absence of cats. This study found evidence that Grey Petrels, Procellaria cinerea, began breeding again on the island in 1999, after an absence of over 100 years. Blue Petrels, Halobaena caerulea, and Fairy Prions, Pachyptila turtur, were found to be re-colonising Macquarie Island from offshore stacks after a similar absence. South Georgian Diving-Petrels, Pelecanoides georgicus, were also possibly recolonising the island. Despite the presence of Black Rats, Rattus rattus, most of the bird species discussed are considered capable of population increase. If European Rabbits, Oryctolagus cuniculus, are not eliminated or maintained in reduced numbers, some petrel populations will never fully recover. Climate change could have a negative impact on burrow-nesting petrels, and is likely to exacerbate the detrimental effects of the remaining pest species on vulnerable indigenous bird species, compounding the need for remedial action against rabbits in particular. Together with predictions that other petrel species will now return to breed, certain terrestrial bird species, alien to the region, may invade Macquarie Island as a consequence of the combination of pest eradication and changing climatic conditions.

More on Macquarie island cats

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