Sunday, November 28, 2021

Breeding biology of the Kakerori ( Pomarea dimidiata ) on Rarotonga, Cook Islands

TitleBreeding biology of the Kakerori ( Pomarea dimidiata ) on Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsSaul, EK, Robertson, HA, Tiraa, A
Type of Articlepaper
Keywordsbreeding, conservation, Cook Islands, Kakerori, monarch flycatcher, Pomarea dimidiata

The breeding biology of Kakerori, or Rarotonga Flycatcher, (Pomarea dimidiata) was studied during ten years (1987-97) of experimental management aimed at saving this endangered monarch flycatcher from extinction. Kakerori remained territorial all year and were usually monogamous. Most birds kept the same mate from year to year, but pairs that failed to raise any young were more likely to divorce than successful pairs. Despite living in the tropics, Kakerori breeding was strictly seasonal, with eggs laid from early October to mid-February, and mostly in late October and early November. Nesting started earlier in years when October was very sunny. Most pairs (74%) laid only one clutch, but some pairs laid up to four replacement clutches when nests failed. Three pairs (1%) successfully raised two broods in a season. Rat (Rattus spp.) predation was the principal cause of nest failure, especially of nests in pua (Fagraea berteriana), the main fruiting tree used by rats during the Kakerori breeding season. Annual breeding productivity was initially poor (0.46 fledglings per breeding pair over two years) and the population was declining, but intensive management since 1989 has led to a great increase in productivity (1.07 fledglings per breeding pair over eight years) and the number of Kakerori has increased from 29 birds in 1989 to a minimum of 153 birds in 1997. Their IUCN conservation status can therefore be lowered from 'critically endangered' to 'endangered'.

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