Victoria University

Integrated conservation of the Whenua Hou Diving Petrel

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dc.contributor.advisor Wittmer, Heiko
dc.contributor.advisor Armstrong, Doug
dc.contributor.advisor Debski, Igor Fischer, Johannes 2021-01-11T22:44:54Z 2021-01-11T22:44:54Z 2020 2021
dc.description.abstract Seabirds are one of the most threatened taxa on the planet. These species are also considered ecosystem engineers. Therefore, seabirds are of particular conservation interest. One of the most threatened seabirds is the critically endangered Whenua Hou Diving Petrel (Pelecanoides whenuahouensis; WHDP). The WHDP is restricted to a minute (0.018 km2) breeding colony on a single island — Whenua Hou (Codfish Island), Aotearoa (New Zealand). The WHDP population was estimated at 150 adults in 2005. The WHDP is threatened by storms and storm surges, which erode its breeding habitat (fragile foredunes), and potentially by competition for burrows with congenerics. I aimed to inform suitable conservation strategies for the WHDP. I first quantified the efficacy of past conservation actions (eradications of invasive predators). I compiled burrow counts across four decades to estimate and compare population growth before and after predator eradications. I then investigated offshore threats using tracking data to quantify WHDP offshore distribution, behaviour, and overlap with commercial fishing efforts. Subsequently, I estimated the potential impact and success of WHDP translocations. Specifically, I combined capture-recapture, nest-monitoring, and count data in an integrated population model (IPM) to predict the impact of harvesting chicks for translocations on the source population and to project the establishment of a second population. I then informed future translocation protocols using nest-monitoring data to quantify nest survival and breeding biology. Finally, I tested if WHDP presence had a positive influence on unrelated species groups. I counted two skink species at sites with and without burrows and used occupancy modelling to quantify the influence WHDP burrows had on skink occurrence. Estimates of population growth before and after predator eradications illustrated that WHDP population growth remained comparatively low and unaffected by this conservation strategy. Therefore, additional interventions are required. WHDP tracking revealed that the non-breeding distribution did not overlap with commercial fishing efforts. However, considerable fishing efforts were present within the breeding distribution. Despite these findings, onshore threats remain present and conservation strategies aimed at addressing terrestrial threats may be more feasible. Results from my IPM showed that translocations could successfully establish a second WHDP population without impacting the source excessively, provided translocation cohorts remain small and translocations are repeated over long time periods (5-10 years). Nest survival was not clearly influenced by interannual variation, distance to sea, and intra- or interspecific competition. Furthermore, I informed future translocation protocols by identifying the preferred harvest window, measurements of ideal translocation candidates, and feeding regimes. Occurrence of one skink species was 114% higher at sites with burrows than at sites without, suggesting that WHDP presence benefits unrelated species. The information provided in this thesis facilitates the identification of future management strategies for this critically endangered species. However, future conservation management of the WHDP should be based on structured decision-making frameworks that apply iterative adaptive management loops and must acknowledge the unique position of tangata whenua (people of the land). This approach could address the consequences and trade-offs of each alternative, account for uncertainty, facilitate the decolonisation of conservation biology, and would ultimately result in the best potential outcome of the target species in a truly integrated fashion. en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.language.iso mi
dc.publisher Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject Conservation Biology en_NZ
dc.subject Seabirds en_NZ
dc.subject Population dynamics en_NZ
dc.title Integrated conservation of the Whenua Hou Diving Petrel en_NZ
dc.type text en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit School of Biological Sciences en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ Conservation Biology en_NZ Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ Doctoral en_NZ Doctor of Philosophy en_NZ
dc.rights.license Author Retains Copyright en_NZ 2020-12-28T21:53:23Z
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 060207 Population Ecology en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 060899 Zoology not elsewhere classified en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcseo 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrctoa 3 APPLIED RESEARCH en_NZ

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