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Two introduced carnivores, the European red fox Vulpes vulpes and domestic cat Felis catus, have had extensive impacts on Australian biodiversity. In this study, we collate information on consumption of Australian birds by the fox, paralleling a recent study reporting on birds consumed by cats. We found records of consumption by foxes on 128 native bird species (18% of the non-vagrant bird fauna and 25% of those species within the fox’s range), a smaller tally than for cats (343 species, including 297 within the fox’s Australian range, a subset of that of the cat). Most (81%) bird species eaten by foxes are also eaten by cats, suggesting that predation impacts are compounded. As with consumption by cats, birds that nest or forage on the ground are most likely to be consumed by foxes. However, there is also some partitioning, with records of consumption by foxes but not cats for 25 bird species, indicating that impacts of the two predators may also be complementary. Bird species ≥3.4 kg were more likely to be eaten by foxes, and those <3.4 kg by cats. Our compilation provides an inventory and describes characteristics of Australian bird species known to be consumed by foxes, but we acknowledge that records of predation do not imply population-level impacts. Nonetheless, there is sufficient information from other studies to demonstrate that fox predation has significant impacts on the population viability of some Australian birds, especially larger birds, and those that nest or forage on the ground.
Invasive predators have decimated island biodiversity worldwide. Rats (Rattus spp.) are perhaps the greatest conservation threat to island fauna. The ground nesting Palau Micronesian Scrubfowl Megapodius laperouse senex (Megapodiidae) inhabits many of the islands of Palau’s Rock Island Southern Lagoon Conservation Area (RISL) in the western Pacific. These islands are also heavily visited by tourists and support populations of introduced rats, both of which may act as added stressors for the scrubfowl. Using passive chew-tag and call playback surveys on five tourist-visited and five tourist-free islands, we investigated if rats and tourists negatively affect scrubfowl, and if higher rat activity is associated with tourist presence. Rat detection probability and site occupancy were significantly higher on tourist visited (89% and 99%, respectively) compared to tourist-free islands (52% and 73%). Scrubfowl were detected at significantly more stations on tourist-free (93%) than tourist visited (47%) islands and their relative abundance was higher (2.66 and 1.58 birds per station, respectively), although not statistically significantly. While rat occupancy probability likewise had a non-significant negative effect on scrubfowl numbers across islands, our results show a negative relationship between tourist presence and scrubfowl in the RISL. Our findings also suggest that rat populations may be augmented by tourist visitation in the RISL. Although this situation may not seriously affect the scrubfowl, it may be highly detrimental to populations of other threatened island landbirds.
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