Sunday, September 20, 2020

The land bird fauna of Stephens Island, New Zealand in the early 1890s, and the cause of its demise

TitleThe land bird fauna of Stephens Island, New Zealand in the early 1890s, and the cause of its demise
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsMedway, DG
JournalNotornis
Volume51
Issue4
Pagination201-211
Type of Articlepaper
Keywordscat predation, extirpations, forest reduction, land birds, Philesturnus c. carunculatus, South Island saddleback, Stephens Island, Stephens Island piopio, Turnagra capensis minor
Abstract

Stephens Island provides the classic example in the New Zealand region of the effect that predation by feral cats (Felis catus) can have on an island land bird fauna. Twenty-five species of native New Zealand land birds were recorded on the island in the early 1890s when it was still forested and free of mammalian predators. It is probable that Stephens Island still had its original land bird fauna at that time. The land bird species included large populations of the extinct Stephens Island piopio (Turnagra capensis minor), and the endangered South Island saddleback (Philesturnus c. carunculatus). Cats were introduced to Stephens Island, probably in 1894. They soon became feral and multiplied rapidly. The evidence indicates that cats were responsible for the rapid demise of the native land bird fauna of the island.

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