Sunday, March 18, 2018

Breeding petrels of Dusky Sound, Fiordland – survivors from a century of stoat invasions

TitleBreeding petrels of Dusky Sound, Fiordland – survivors from a century of stoat invasions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMiskelly, CM, Tennyson, AJD, Stahl, J-C, Smart, AF, Edmonds, HK, McMurtrie, PG
Type of ArticleFull article
Keywordsbreeding, colony, Dusky Sound, Fiordland, petrel, prion, seabird, shearwater, stoat control, stoat predation

A total of 49 breeding colonies of 3 petrel species was found on 44 of 56 islands surveyed in Dusky Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand, in November 2016. Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) was the most widespread and abundant species, with an estimated 21,400 burrows on 35 islands. Mottled petrels (Pterodroma inexpectata) were breeding on 12 islands (5500 burrows estimated), and broad-billed prions (Pachyptila vittata) on 2 islands (560 burrows estimated). Sooty shearwaters were found breeding among mottled petrels on 4 islands, and among broad-billed prions on 1 island. This is a 5-fold increase in the number of petrel colonies in Dusky Sound identified in published accounts, and the first estimate of the number of burrows on each island. Long-term survival of most or all of these colonies is dependent on ongoing control of stoats (Mustela erminea) in Dusky Sound. However, we suggest that islands too small to support a resident stoat population provided partial refugia for petrels, even if the islands are within stoat swimming range, allowing petrels to persist for multiple generations. In contrast, petrels were apparently rapidly extirpated from islands over 100 ha, where stoats maintained a resident population.

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