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The response of burrow-nesting petrels and other vulnerable bird species to vertebrate pest management and climate change on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island

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Brothers, N and 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 (1). pp. 123-148. ISSN 0080-4703

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Abstract

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, Procell aria 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.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, RST, Van Diemens Land, natural history, science, ecology, taxonomy, botany, zoology, geology, geography, papers & proceedings, Australia, UTAS Library
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 123-148
ISSN: 0080-4703
Additional Information: Copyright Royal Society of Tasmania
Date Deposited: 17 May 2012 02:11
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:32
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/13319
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