Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Breeding petrels of Breaksea and Dusky Sounds, Fiordland; responses to three decades of predator control

TitleBreeding petrels of Breaksea and Dusky Sounds, Fiordland; responses to three decades of predator control
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsMiskelly, CM, Bishop, CR, Greene, TC, Rickett, J, Taylor, GA, Tennyson, AJD
Type of ArticleFull article
KeywordsBreaksea Island; breeding; colony; Fiordland; petrel; predation; prion; rat; seabird; shearwater; stoat


Twenty-four breeding colonies of three petrel species were found on 18 of 26 islands surveyed in Breaksea Sound/Te Puaitaha, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand, in November 2017 and December 2019. All vegetated islands within Breaksea Sound were surveyed, along with 20 islands in Dusky Sound/Tamatea that were not included in an initial survey in November 2016 (eight of these additional Dusky Sound islands had breeding petrels, including three with broad-billed prions Pachyptila vittata). Sooty shearwater (Ardenna grisea) was the most widespread and abundant species in Breaksea Sound, with an estimated 6,950 burrows on 14 islands, while broad-billed prions were breeding on seven islands (2,100 burrows estimated). We record the first evidence of mottled petrels (Pterodroma inexpectata) breeding in Breaksea Sound, which is now their northernmost breeding location. Burrow occupancy rates were not assessed for any of the species. Most of the islands in Breaksea Sound had previously been surveyed during 1974 to 1986, before Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) were eradicated from Hāwea and Breaksea Islands, and stoats (Mustela erminea) controlled to near zero density on Resolution Island and adjacent islands (including the inner Gilbert Islands and Entry Island). Following pest mammal control or eradication, broad-billed prions have colonised at least four additional sites. Sooty shearwaters were found at five sites in Breaksea Sound where they had not been recorded in 1980–83, and at one site they had increased by more than 50-fold since rat eradication. When combined with data from the 2016 and 2017 surveys, more than 75,700 petrel burrows are estimated to be present in southern Fiordland.


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