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

Monday, 2 November 2015

Little recovery of burrowing petrels after cat eradication

Cerfonteyn, M., & Ryan, P. G. 2016. Have burrowing petrels recovered on Marion Island two decades after cats were eradicated? Evidence from sub-Antarctic skua prey remains. Antarctic Science, 1-7.

In the 1980s, penguins dominated the prey remains of sub-Antarctic skuas Stercorarius antarcticus breeding on Marion Island, whereas on neighbouring Prince Edward Island burrowing petrels made up >95% of prey remains in nest middens. This difference resulted at least in part from the impact of introduced cats Felis catus on Marion Island’s burrowing petrel populations. Cats were introduced to Marion Island in 1949, and prior to their eradication in 1991, they killed an estimated 450 000 petrels each year, greatly reducing the densities of petrels breeding on the island. A repeat survey of skua prey remains showed that penguins still dominated the prey of breeding sub-Antarctic skuas on Marion Island in the summer of 2010–11, two decades after cats were eradicated from the island. The proportion of penguin remains decreased slightly compared to 1987–88, but this might be expected given the decreases in penguin numbers on Marion Island over this period. Regurgitated pellets confirmed the dominance of penguin prey on Marion Island. Taken together with the decrease in skua numbers on Marion Island over the last two decades, our results suggest that there has been little recovery in the population of at least summer-breeding burrowing petrels since cats were eradicated.

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