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Reintroduction of rifleman Acanthisitta chloris to Ulva Island, New Zealand: evaluation of techniques and population persistence

  • Tara J. Leech, Emma Craig (a1), Brent Beaven (a2), David K. Mitchell (a3) and Philip J. Seddon (a1)...

Abstract

Rifleman, or titipounamu Acanthisitta chloris, is New Zealand’s smallest endemic passerine. The species has a fragmented distribution and is threatened in the Rakiura region in the south of the South Island. The only known population of South Island rifleman A. c. chloris in the Rakiura region persisted on Codfish Island/Whenua Hou. To create a second population of rifleman in Rakiura, 30 caught from Codfish Island were reintroduced onto nearby Ulva Island in February 2003, the first translocation of rifleman. Survival and dispersal were monitored for 1 month post-release, and subsequently during the first and second breeding seasons. Mortality was greatest during holding and transfer, with low to moderate post-release mortality. All founding pairs bred in the first breeding season, and both founders and offspring bred in the second season. Dispersal across the island was greater for offspring. A simple deterministic matrix model indicated positive annual population growth (λ = 1.33), and low risk of short-term extinction. Holding/transfer techniques should be improved for future reintroductions, and longer-term monitoring should be undertaken for a more accurate assessment of vital rates. Based on the survival of founding birds, reproduction by the release generation and their offspring, and high probability of population persistence, the rifleman reintroduction was considered to be successful and a good model for future reintroductions of small passerine birds.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand. E-mail tara.leech@gmail.com

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Keywords

Reintroduction of rifleman Acanthisitta chloris to Ulva Island, New Zealand: evaluation of techniques and population persistence

  • Tara J. Leech, Emma Craig (a1), Brent Beaven (a2), David K. Mitchell (a3) and Philip J. Seddon (a1)...

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