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Vertebrate fauna associates of the Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Puffinus pacificus, colonies of Rottnest Island: influence of an ecosystem engineer

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Bancroft, WJ and Roberts, JD and Garkalis, MJ (2008) Vertebrate fauna associates of the Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Puffinus pacificus, colonies of Rottnest Island: influence of an ecosystem engineer. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 142 (1). pp. 21-30. ISSN 0080-4703

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Abstract

Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Puffinus pacificus, engineer the ecosystem by digging burrows in which they nest. This has been previously
shown to affect the soil and vegetation properties of their colonies. Here we report on field surveys employed to investigate how associated
vertebrate fauna respond to physical habitat modification by shearwaters. The study area was species poor, with only one mammal, and
three reptile species detected in 1440 Elliott trap and 720 pitfall trap nights across a 13-month period. Nineteen bird species were recorded
from 98 survey days. Relative to an area of uncolonised heath, we observed an increase in the abundance of King's Skinks, Egernia kingii,
and a decrease in the abundance of House Mice, Mus musculus, and West Coast Ctenotus, Ctenotus fallens, in the shearwater colony. The
survival rates of King's Skinks and House Mice were not affected by Wedge-tailed Shearwater presence. Bird species richness was less in the
colony (9.2 ±0.5 species month-I) than the heath (11.5 ±0.2 species month-I), and the composition of the two communities was different.
We suggest that ecosystem engineering by Wedge-tailed Shearwaters is a major determinant of fauna associates of their colonies and offer
direct and indirect mechanisms to explain the patterns of species occurrence observed.

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. 21-30
ISSN: 0080-4703
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

Copyright Royal Society of Tasmania

Date Deposited: 16 May 2012 04:11
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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