MARCH 28, 2019
Research by recent Victoria University of Wellington Ph.D. graduate Dr. Nyree Fea shows significant differences in the way bird species respond to conservation efforts.
Her work, done as part of her Ph.D. in Ecology, has implications for conservation management in New Zealand.
According to Dr. Fea's research, large endemic birds like kaka or kereru respond positively to control of the mammalian predators that threaten birds in New Zealand forests: possums, stoats, and rats. However, species that arrived in New Zealand more recently, like the blackbird, silvereye and fantail, either show no change at all after the removal of mammalian predators, or in some cases even show a decline.
"Large, deeply endemic birds, like the kaka and tieke (saddleback), are believed to have been isolated from mammalian predators for longer and may have lost any natural defences against such predators," Dr. Fea says. "For example, birds like kaka and tieke nest in holes and can be trapped by an approaching mammalian predator. Intensive predator control, like eradication of mammals from off-shore islands or sanctuaries like Zealandia, particularly benefits these species."