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Mouse predation affects breeding success of burrow-nesting petrels at sub-Antarctic Marion Island

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 December 2017

Ben J. Dilley*
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Stefan Schoombie
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Kim Stevens
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Delia Davies
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Vonica Perold
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Alexis Osborne
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Janine Schoombie
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Christiaan W. Brink
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Tegan Carpenter-Kling
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Peter G. Ryan
Affiliation:
FitzPatrick Institute of Africa Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa

Abstract

We report the breeding success of four species of burrow-nesting petrels at sub-Antarctic Marion Island where house mice Mus musculus are the sole introduced mammal. Feral cats Felis catus were present on Marion for four decades from 1949, killing millions of seabirds and greatly reducing petrel populations. Cats were eradicated by 1991, but petrel populations have shown only marginal recoveries. We hypothesize that mice are suppressing their recovery through depredation of petrel eggs and chicks. Breeding success for winter breeders (grey petrels Procellaria cinerea (34±21%) and great-winged petrels Pterodroma macroptera (52±7%)) were lower than for summer breeders (blue petrels Halobaena caerulea (61±6%) and white-chinned petrels Procellaria aequinoctialis (59±6%)) and among winter breeders most chick fatalities were of small chicks up to 14 days old. We assessed the extent of mouse predation by monitoring the inside of 55 burrow chambers with video surveillance cameras (4024 film days from 2012–16) and recorded fatal attacks on grey (3/18 nests filmed, 17%) and great-winged petrel chicks (1/19, 5%). Our results show that burrow-nesting petrels are at risk from mouse predation, providing further motivation for the eradication of mice from Marion Island.

Type
Biological Sciences
Copyright
© Antarctic Science Ltd 2017 

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