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New Zealand Falcon nests suffer lower predation in agricultural habitat than in natural habitat

  • SARA M. KROSS (a1), PAUL G. McDONALD (a2) and XIMENA J. NELSON (a1)

Summary

Introduced mammalian predators have been implicated in the majority of avian extinctions on oceanic islands around the globe. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the decimated New Zealand avifauna, where introduced predators remain the primary threat to virtually all surviving endemic species, including the threatened New Zealand Falcon Falco novaeseelandiae. We used remote videography at falcon nests and conducted an artificial nest experiment to compare the rates of predation and responsible predators of falcons nesting in hills against those nesting in nearby commercial vineyards. Overall, 63% of artificial nests in the hills were predated, compared with 38% in vineyards. Further, artificial eggs were predated faster in the hills than those placed in vineyards. Video footage revealed that the suite of predators visiting real falcon nests was similar to those identified attacking artificial nests. However, predators differed across habitats, with nests in vineyards being predated mainly by hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus and Australasian Harriers Circus approximans, whereas nests in the hill environments were mainly attacked by stoats Mustela erminea. These results demonstrate the important implications of habitat type on predation pressure associated with introduced predators. These may well prove a fruitful avenue of management if breeding can be fostered in safer areas, as in the case of this threatened falcon.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence; email: saramaekross@gmail.com

References

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New Zealand Falcon nests suffer lower predation in agricultural habitat than in natural habitat

  • SARA M. KROSS (a1), PAUL G. McDONALD (a2) and XIMENA J. NELSON (a1)

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