Drivers of Seabird Population Recovery on New Zealand Islands after Predator Eradication
Buxton, Rachel; Jones, Christopher; Moller, Henrik; Towns, David
Eradication of introduced mammalian predators from islands has become increasingly common, with over 800 successful projects around the world. Historically, introduced predators extirpated or reduced the size of many seabird populations, changing the dynamics of entire island ecosystems. Although the primary outcome of many eradication projects is the restoration of affected seabird populations, natural population responses are rarely documented and mechanisms are poorly understood. We used a generic model of seabird colony growth to identify key predictor variables relevant to recovery or recolonization. We used generalized linear mixed models to test the importance of these variables in driving seabird population responses after predator eradication on islands around New Zealand. The most influential variable affecting recolonization of seabirds around New Zealand was the distance to a source population, with few cases of recolonization without a source population ≤25 km away. Colony growth was most affected by metapopulation status; there was little colony growth in species with a declining status. These characteristics may facilitate the prioritization of newly predator-free islands for active management. Although we found some evidence documenting natural recovery, generally this topic was understudied. Our results suggest that in order to guide management strategies, more effort should be allocated to monitoring wildlife response after eradication.
Rights Statement: © 2014 Society for Conservation Biology
Keywords: population dynamics; predator eradication; recolonization; recovery; restoration; seabirds
Research Type: Journal Article