Changes in sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) abundance and harvesting on the Rakiura Titi Islands
Moller, Henrik; Fletcher, David; Johnson, P; Bell, Brian; Flack, D; Bragg, Corey; Scott, Darren; Newman, Jamie; McKechnie, Sam; Lyver, Philip
We estimated the change in abundance of sooty shearwater (titi, Puffinus griseus) at six Rakiura Titi Islands, New Zealand, by comparing historical and recent surveys of the density of entrances to breeding burrows. We found evidence that entrance density between 1994 and 2006 was lower than it was between 1961 and 1976. Our overall estimate of the annual rate of change in burrow entrance density is ‐1.0% (95% CI ‐2.3 to ‐ 0.1%). Declines have been slower on four islands where Rakiura Maori maintain a traditional harvest of sooty shearwater chicks ("muttonbirding") compared with three unharvested islands. Density‐dependent population processes may explain this difference: rates of decline have been faster in areas of relatively high initial entrance density, and historically the harvested islands have had lower initial density. There was a strong, apparently linear, relationship between entrance density and chick density on breeding colonies, so changes in entrance density probably do indicate a real population decline. The western side of Taukihepa, the largestof the Titi Islands, first became accessible for muttonbirding with the advent of helicopters in the 1970s, but it is unknown whether this has caused an increase in the number of sooty shearwaters harvested by Rakiura Maori.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Rights Statement: © The Royal Society of New Zealand 2009
Keywords: density dependence; harvesting; muttonbirding; population declines; Puffinus griseus; sooty shearwaters
Research Type: Journal Article