The recovery of burrowing petrels on Macquarie Island following invasive predator control

Date: 13, Oct, 2021
Author(s):   Jeremy Bird, Justine Shaw
Publisher: TSR Hub

Feral cats, rabbits, rats and mice have led to the decline of numerous seabirds on Macquarie Island. After an extensive pest eradication program, the island was declared free of invasive mammals in 2014. We aimed to determine whether the population of four bird species were recovering once the threat from invasive animals had been removed. We conducted whole island surveys in 2017-2018 for two established species, Antarctic prions (Pachyptila desolata) and white-headed petrels (Pterodro malessonii), and two recolonising species that were locally extinct in the 1900s, blue petrels (Halobaena caerulea) and grey petrels (Procellaria cineria). We mapped their contemporary distribution and abundance and compared this with previous work from 1970-2000s. The populations of all four species have increased, with the recolonising species having substantially smaller populations than the established species. The current size and increasing trends of blue and white-headed petrel populations suggests that they are no longer threatened with extinction in Australia, and we recommend that they be delisted from both state and federal legislation.