SAC # 114

Restoring Burrow-Nesting Seabirds: Translocation as a means to restore ecosystems



TIME | 11 August 2011, 4pm onwards

LOCATION | CSAFE Seminar Room, , Dunedin

SPEAKER | Colin Miskelly (Curator Terrestrial Vertebrates, Te Papa, Wellington)


Burrow-nesting petrels (Procellariiformes) once formed enormous populations on most islands and parts of mainland New Zealand, where they heavily modified terrestrial ecosystems through input of marine-sourced nutrients, their burrowing activity, and physical disturbance of ground cover, seedlings and leaf litter. Burrow-nesting seabirds were disproportionately affected by predatory mammals, but there have been few attempts to restore them to sites where they have become locally extinct. Reintroduction efforts have been hampered by the absence of practical methods to overcome the strong philopatry typical of petrels. I will describe techniques developed to reintroduce three species of burrow-nesting petrels to Mana Island Cook Strait, New Zealand), and describe the outcomes of the first two translocations. Our models of potential population recovery of remnant and reintroduced petrel populations reveal that the ecological impacts of introduced predatory mammals may persist for centuries after their eradication.

About the Speaker

Dr Colin Miskelly has been involved in research and conservation management of New Zealand wildlife and their habitats for nearly 30 years. After completing a PhD at the University of Canterbury on the ecology of New Zealand snipe, Colin was employed by the Department of Conservation in science, management and advisory roles for the next two decades. During this time he was closely involved with ecological restoration on Mana Island, rat eradication on Kapiti Island, threatened species management on the Chatham Islands, and was DOC's representative on the Karori Sanctuary Trust. Colin is currently the curator of terrestrial vertebrates at Te Papa, where his major projects include the creation of an online encyclopaedia of New Zealand birds, and researching a biography on Canterbury-based naturalist Edgar Stead. Colin is also the convenor of the New Zealand bird threat ranking committee, and the Ornithological Society's records appraisal committee.


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