Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Population status of four endemic land bird species after an unsuccessful rodent eradication on Henderson Island

  • ALEXANDER L. BOND (a1), M. DE L. BROOKE (a2), RICHARD J. CUTHBERT (a1), JENNIFER L. LAVERS (a1), GREGORY T.W. MCCLELLAND (a1), THOMAS CHURCHYARD (a1), ANGUS DONALDSON (a1), NEIL DUFFIELD (a1), ALICE FORREST (a1), GAVIN HARRISON (a3), LORNA MACKINNON (a1), TARA PROUD (a1), ANDREW SKINNER (a1), NICK TORR (a1), JULIET A. VICKERY (a1) and STEFFEN OPPEL (a4)...
Summary

Invasive rodents detrimentally affect native bird species on many islands worldwide, and rodent eradication is a useful tool to safeguard endemic and threatened species. However, especially on tropical islands, rodent eradications can fail for various reasons, and it is unclear whether the temporary reduction of a rodent population during an unsuccessful eradication operation has beneficial effects on native birds. Here we examine the response of four endemic land bird species on subtropical Henderson Island in the Pitcairn Island Group, South Pacific Ocean, following an unsuccessful rodent eradication in 2011. We conducted point counts at 25 sampling locations in 14 survey periods between 2011 and 2015, and modelled the abundance trends of all species using binomial mixture models accounting for observer and environmental variation in detection probability. Henderson Reed Warbler Acrocephalus taiti more than doubled in abundance (2015 population estimate: 7,194-28,776), and Henderson Fruit Dove Ptilinopus insularis increased slightly between 2011 and 2015 (2015 population estimate: 4,476–10,072), while we detected no change in abundance of the Henderson Lorikeet Vini stepheni (2015 population estimate: 554–3014). Henderson Crake Zapornia atra increased to pre-eradication levels following anticipated mortality during the operation (2015 population estimate: 4,960–20,783). A temporary reduction of rat predation pressure and rat competition for fruit may have benefitted the reed warbler and the fruit dove, respectively. However, a long drought may have naturally suppressed bird populations prior to the rat eradication operation in 2011, potentially confounding the effects of temporary rat reduction and natural recovery. We therefore cannot unequivocally ascribe the population recovery to the temporary reduction of the rat population. We encourage robust monitoring of island biodiversity both before and after any management operation to better understand responses of endemic species to failed or successful operations.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence; e-mail: a.bond@nhm.ac.uk
Footnotes
Hide All
1

Current address: Bird Group, Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, Akeman Street, Tring, Hertfordshire, HP23 6AP, UK.

2

Current address: Conservation Solutions, 9 Prospect Drive, Belper, Derbyshire, DE56 1UY, United Kingdom.

3

Current address: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, 20 Castray Esplanade, Battery Point, Tasmania, 7004, Australia.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Amos, W., Nichols, H. J., Churchyard, T. and Brooke, M. de L. (2016) Rat eradication comes within a whisker! A case study from the South Pacific. R. Soc. Open Sci. 3: 160110.
Atkinson, I. A. E. (1985) The spread of commensal species of Rattus to oceanic islands and their effects on island avifaunas. Pages 3581 in Moors, P. J., ed. Conservation of Island birds Cambridge, UK: International Council for Bird preservation. (ICBP Technical Publication No. 3).
Bergstrom, D. M., Lucieer, A., Kiefer, K., Wasley, J., Belbin, L., Pedersen, T. K. and Chown, S. L. (2009) Indirect effects of invasive species removal devastate World Heritage Island. J. Appl. Ecol. 46: 7381.
Bond, A. L., Cuthbert, R. J., McClelland, G. T. W., Churchyard, T., Duffield, N. D., Havery, S., Kelly, J., Lavers, J. L., Proud, T., Torr, N., Vickery, J. A. and Oppel, S. (in press) Recovery of introduced Pacific rats (Rattus exulans) following a failed eradication attempt on subtropical Henderson Island, south Pacific Ocean. In Proceedings of the Island Invasives 2017 Conference.
Brooke, M. de L. (1995a) The breeding biology of the gadfly petrels Pterodroma spp. of the Pitcairn Islands: characteristics, population sizes and controls. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 213231.
Brooke, M. de L. (1995b) The modern avifauna of the Pitcairn Islands. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 199212.
Brooke, M. de L. and Hartley, I. R. (1995) Nesting Henderson Reed-warblers (Acrocephalus vaughani taiti) studied by DNA fingerprinting: unrelated coalitions in a stable habitat? Auk 112: 7786.
Brooke, M. de L. and Jones, P. J. (1995) The diet of the Henderson Fruit-dove Ptilinopus insularis. I. Field observations of fruit choice. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 149165.
Brooke, M. de L., Bonnaud, E., Dilley, B. J., Flint, E. N., Holmes, N. D., Jones, H. P., Provost, P., Rocamora, G., Ryan, P. G., Surman, C. and Buxton, R. T. (2018) Seabird population changes following mammal eradications on islands. Anim. Conserv. 21: 312
Brooke, M. de L., Jones, P. J., Vickery, J. A. and Waldren, S. (1996) Seasonal patterns of leaf growth and loss, flowering and fruiting on a subtropical central Pacific island. Biotropica 28: 164179.
Brooke, M. de L., O’Connell, T. C., Wingate, D., Madeiros, J., Hilton, G. M. and Ratcliffe, N. (2010) Potential for rat predation to cause decline of the globally threatened Henderson Petrel Pterodroma atrata: evidence from the field, stable isotopes and population modelling. Endang. Species Res. 11: 4759.
Campbell, D. J., Moller, H., Ramsay, G. W. and Wait, J. C. (1984) Observations on foods of kiore (Rattus exulans) found in husking stations on northern offshore islands of New Zealand. N. Z. J. Ecol. 7: 131138.
Clout, M. N., Denyer, K., James, R. E. and McFadden, I. G. (1995) Breeding success of New Zealand Pigeons (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) in relation to control of introduced mammals. N. Z. J. Ecol. 19: 209212.
Croll, D. A., Maron, J. L., Estes, J. A., Danner, E. M. and Byrd, G. V. (2005) Introduced predators transform subarctic islands from grassland to tundra. Science 307: 19591961.
Cuthbert, R. J., Brooke, M. de L. and Torr, N. (2012) Overcoming hermit-crab interference during rodent-baiting operations: a case study from Henderson Island, South Pacific. Wildl. Res. 39: 7077.
Dawson, J., Oppel, S., Cuthbert, R. J., Holmes, N., Bird, J. P., Butchart, S. H. M., Spatz, D. R. and Tershy, B. (2015) Prioritizing islands for the eradication of invasive vertebrates in the United Kingdom Overseas Territories. Conserv. Biol. 29: 143153.
DIISE. (2016) The Database of Island Invasive Species Eradications. http://diise.islandconservation.org. Accessed 1 July 2016. Island Conservation, Coastal Conservation Action Laboratory UCSC, IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. University of Auckland and Landcare Research New Zealand.
Donlan, C. J., Campbell, K., Cabrera, W., Lavoie, C., Carrion, V. and Cruz, F. (2007) Recovery of the Galápagos Rail (Laterallus spilonotus) following the removal of invasive mammals. Biol. Conserv. 138: 520524.
García, J. D. D. (2002) Interaction between introduced rats and a frugivore bird-plant system in a relict island forest. J. Nat. Hist. 36: 12471258.
Gelman, A., Carlin, J. B., Stern, H. S. and Rubin, D. B. (2004) Bayesian data analysis. Boca Raton, USA: Chapman & Hall/CRC Press.
Graham, M. F. and Veitch, C. R. (2002) Changes in bird numbers on Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand, over the period of rat eradication. Pages 120123 in Veitch, C. R., and Clout, M. N., eds. Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species. Cambridge, UK: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group and International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Graves, G. R. (1992) The endemic landbirds of Henderson Island, southeastern Polynesia: notes on natural history and conservation. Wilson Bull. 104: 3243.
Harper, G. A. and Bunbury, N. (2015) Invasive rats on tropical islands: Their population biology and impacts on native species. Glob. Ecol. Conserv. 3: 607627.
Hockey, P. A. R., Wanless, R. M. and von Brandis, R. (2011) Demographic resilience of territorial island birds to extinction: the flightless Aldabra Rail Dryolimnas (cuvieri) aldabranus as an example. Ostrich 82: 19.
Holmes, N. D., Griffiths, R., Pott, M., Alifano, A., Will, D., Wegmann, A. S. and Russell, J. C. (2015) Factors associated with rodent eradication failure. Biol. Conserv. 185: 816.
Innes, J., Nugent, G., Prime, K. and Spurr, E. B. (2004) Responses of Kukupa (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) and other birds to mammal pest control at Motatau, Northland. N. Z. J. Ecol. 28: 7381.
James, R. E. and Clout, M. N. (1996) Nesting success of New Zealand Pigeons (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) in response to a rat (Rattus rattus) poisoning programme at Wenderholm Regional Park. N. Z. J. Ecol. 20: 4551.
Jones, H. P., Holmes, N. D., Butchart, S. H. M., Tershy, B. R., Kappes, P. J., Corkery, I., Aguirre-Muñoz, A., Armstrong, D. P., Bonnaud, E., Burbidge, A. A., Campbell, K., Courchamp, F., Cowan, P. E., Cuthbert, R. J., Ebbert, S. E., Genovesi, P., Howald, G. R., Keitt, B. S., Kress, S. W., Miskelly, C. M., Oppel, S., Poncet, S., Rauzon, M. J., Rocamora, G., Russell, J. C., Samaniego-Herrera, A., Seddon, P. J., Spatz, D. R., Towns, D. R. and Croll, D. A. (2016) Invasive mammal eradication on islands results in substantial conservation gains. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 113: 40334038.
Jones, H. P., Tershy, B., Zavaleta, E. S., Croll, D. A., Keitt, B. S., Finkelstein, M. E. and Howald, G. R. (2008) Severity of the effects of invasive rats on seabirds: a global review. Conserv. Biol. 22: 1626.
Jones, P., Schubel, S., Jolly, J. N., Brooke, M. de L. and Vickery, J. A. (1995) Behaviour, natural history, and annual cycle of the Henderson Island Rail Porzana atra (Aves: Rallidae). Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 167183.
Keitt, B. S., Griffiths, R., Boudjelas, S., Broome, K. G., Cranwell, S., Millett, J., Pitt, W. and Samaniego-Herrera, A. (2015) Best practice guidelines for rat eradication on tropical islands. Biol. Conserv. 182: 1726.
Kéry, M. (2008) Estimating abundance from bird counts: binomial mixture models uncover complex covariate relationships. Auk 125: 336345.
Kéry, M. and Schaub, M. (2012) Bayesian population analysis using WinBUGS. Oxford, UK: Academic Press.
Kéry, M., Dorazio, R. M., Soldaat, L., Van Strein, A., Zuiderwijk, A. and Royle, J. A. (2009) Trend estimation in populations with imperfect detection. J. Appl. Ecol. 46: 11631172.
Kéry, M., Royle, J. A. and Schmid, H. (2005) Modeling avian abundance from replicated counts using binomial mixture models. Ecol. Appl. 15: 14501461.
Kurle, C. M., Croll, D. A. and Tershy, B. R. (2008) Introduced rats indirectly change marine rocky intertidal communities from algae- to invertebrate-dominated. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 105: 38003804.
Lavers, J. L., McClelland, G. T. W., MacKinnon, L., Bond, A. L., Oppel, S., Donaldson, A. H., Duffield, N. D., Forrest, A. K., Havery, S. J., O’Keefe, S., Skinner, A., Torr, N. and Warren, P. (2016) Henderson Island expedition report: May-November 2015. Sandy, UK: RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. (RSPB Research Report 57).
Lorvelec, O. and Pascal, M. (2005) French attempts to eradicate non-indigenous mammals and their consequences for native biota. Biol. Invasions 7: 135140.
Miskelly, C. M. and Robertson, H. (2002) Response of forest birds to rat eradication on Kapiti Island, New Zealand. P. 410 in Veitch, R. and Clout, M. N., eds. Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species., Cambridge, UK: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group and International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Oppel, S., Bond, A. L., Brooke, M. de L., Harrison, G., Vickery, J. A. and Cuthbert, R. J. (2016) Temporary captive population and rapid population recovery of an endemic flightless rail after a rodent eradication operation using aerially distributed poison bait. Biol. Conserv. 204B: 442448.
Oppel, S., Cassini, A., Fenton, C., Daley, J. and Gray, G. (2014) Population status and trend of the Critically Endangered Montserrat Oriole. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 24: 252261.
Oppel, S., Lavers, J. L., Donaldson, A. H., Forrest, A. K., McClelland, G. T. W., Bond, A. L. and Brooke, M. de L. (2017) Population status, breeding success and ecology of the Henderson Petrel after a failed rat eradication on Henderson Island. Emu 117: 151159.
Pandolfi, J. M. (1995) Geomorphology of the uplifted Pleistocene atoll at Henderson Island, Pitcairn Group. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 6377.
Parashuram, D., Oppel, S., Fenton, C., James, G., Daley, J., Gray, G., Collar, N. J. and Dolman, P. M. (2015) The Forest Thrush Turdus lherminieri prefers mature mesic forest with dense canopy. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 25: 503513.
Parkes, J., Fisher, P. and Forrester, G. (2011) Diagnosing the cause of failure to eradicate introduced rodents on islands: brodifacoum versus diphacinone and method of bait delivery. Conserv. Evid. 8: 100106.
Paulay, G. and Spencer, T. (1989) Vegetation of Henderson Island. Atoll Res. Bull. 328: 120.
Pender, R. J., Shiels, A. B., Bialic-Murphy, L. and Mosher, S. M. (2013) Large-scale rodent control reduces pre- and post-dispersal seed predation of the endangered Hawaiian lobeliad, Cyanea superba subsp. superba (Campanulaceae). Biol. Invasions 15: 213223.
R Core Team (2017) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. Version 3.4.0 [computer program]. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
Rayner, M. J., Hauber, M. E., Imber, M. J., Stamp, R. K. and Clout, M. N. (2007) Spatial heterogeneity of mesopredator release within an oceanic island system. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 104: 2086220865.
Royle, J. A. and Nichols, J. D. (2003) Estimating abundance from repeated presence-absence data or point counts. Ecology 84: 777790.
Royle, J. A., Nichols, J. D. and Kéry, M. (2005) Modelling occurrence and abundance of species when detection is imperfect. Oikos 110: 353359.
Russell, J. C. and Broome, K. G. (2016) Fifty years of rodent eradications in New Zealand: another decade of advances. N. Z. J. Ecol. 40: 197204.
Schmidt, J. H., McIntyre, C. L. and MacCluskie, M. C. (2013) Accounting for incomplete detection: What are we estimating and how might it affect long-term passerine monitoring programs? Biol. Conserv. 160: 130139.
Shiels, A. B. and Drake, D. R. (2011) Are introduced rats (Rattus rattus) both seed predators and dispersers in Hawaii? Biol. Invasions 13: 883894.
Spencer, T. (1995) The Pitcairn Islands, South Pacific Ocean: plate tectonic and climatic contexts. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 1342.
St. John, H. and Philipson, W. R. (1962) An account of the flora of Henderson Island, South Pacific Ocean. Trans. R. Soc. N.Z. Bot. 1: 175194.
Steadman, D. W. and Olson, S. L. (1985) Bird remains from an archaeological site on Henderson Island, South Pacific: Man-caused extinctions on an “uninhabited” island. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 82: 61916195.
Su, Y.-S. and Yajima, M. (2015) R2jags: Using R to Run ’JAGS’. R package version 0.5-7 https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=R2jags.
Sugihara, R. T. (1997) Abundance and diets of rats in two native Hawaiian forests. Pac. Sci. 51: 189198.
Torr, N. and Brown, D. (2012) Henderson Island restoration project post-operational report. Sandy, UK: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Trevelyan, R. J. (1995). The feeding ecology of Stephen’s Lory and nectar availability in its food plants. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 185197.
Waldren, S., Florence, J. and Chepstow-Lusty, A. J. (1995) A comparison of the vegetation communities from the islands of the Pitcairn Group. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 121144.
Waldren, S., Weisler, M. I., Hather, J. G. and Morrow, D. (1999) The non-native vascular plants of Henderson Island, south central Pacific Ocean. Atoll Res. Bull. 463: 122.
Wanless, R. M., Cunningham, J., Hockey, P. A. R., Wanless, J., White, R. W. and Wiseman, R. (2002) The success of a soft-release reintroduction of the flightless Aldabra Rail (Dryolimnas [cuvieri] aldabranus) on Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles. Biol. Conserv. 107: 203210.
Weisler, M. I. (1995) Henderson Island prehistory: colonization and extinction on a remote Polynesian island. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 377404.
Wragg, G. W. (1995) The fossil birds of Henderson Island, Pitcairn Group: natural turnover and human impact, a synopsis. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 56: 405414.
Wragg, G. W. and Weisler, M. I. (1994) Extinctions and new records of birds from Henderson Island, Pitcairn Group, South Pacific Ocean. Notornis 41: 6170.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bird Conservation International
  • ISSN: 0959-2709
  • EISSN: 1474-0001
  • URL: /core/journals/bird-conservation-international
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Bond et al. supplementary material
Bond et al. supplementary material 1

 Word (96 KB)
96 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed