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Spatial ecology and conservation of parrots in New Caledonia

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Legault, AJ (2012) Spatial ecology and conservation of parrots in New Caledonia. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

New Caledonia’s parrots face a variety of threats, and the populations of several species
appear to be in decline. However, it is difficult to determine the cause or extent of their
declines due to a scarcity of ecological data. Accordingly, this research aims to contribute
to the conservation of parrots in New Caledonia by studying their spatial ecology. This
thesis documents the habitat preferences of parrots on the main island of New Caledonia
in relation to environmental variables on a large and small scale. Information about their
activity patterns and flock sizes is provided, and an optimised method of surveying parrots
is described. In addition, ecological niche models are used to infer the distribution and
population size of parakeets.
New Caledonian Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus deplanchii) were
frequently encountered in this study, and were successful in a variety of habitats, including
urban areas. New Caledonian Parakeets (Cyanoramphus saisseti) and Horned Parakeets
(Eunymphicus cornutus) were less common, and appeared to be more specialised in their
habitat requirements. Relatively large and intact patches of rainforest on oligotrophic soils
at intermediate altitudes provided important habitat for both of these species, and would
be appropriate areas for conservation given their vulnerability to mining activities.
New Caledonian Parakeets foraged mainly at low canopy heights, and were
regularly observed at the edge of forest, in slope forest, or in maquis (shrubland). In
comparison, Horned Parakeets tended to forage at greater heights, favoured valley forest
over slope forest, and avoided open habitats. The observed patterns of vertical
stratification and habitat segregation probably help to prevent interspecific competition.
Flocks of parakeets usually consisted of one or two birds, and their size remained
relatively consistent during the day, and throughout the year. Most Rainbow Lorikeet flocks
contained only a few individuals, though some had up to 40 birds. All species had bimodal
activity patterns.
Distance sampling was found to be suitable for surveying parakeets in New
Caledonia, but surveys should be standardised to facilitate comparison between different
areas and time periods.Parakeets in New Caledonia appear to have small populations, and their
distributions are expected to contract as a result of climate change. Ouvéa Parakeets
(Eunymphicus uvaeensis) may be particularly vulnerable in this regard. This study indicates
that the current reserve network provides insufficient protection for parakeets. There is a
need to increase the area devoted to reserves, provide corridors for dispersal, manage
introduced species, and raise environmental awareness in the region.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: conservation, ecology, habitat, new caledonia, parrot, population, survey
Additional Information:

Copyright 2012 the Author

Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2012 04:47
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
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