There are currently many attempts in New Zealand to restore native ecosystem functioning through the intensive control of introduced mammalian predators. One system that is faltering is bird pollination of endemic mistletoes (Peraxilla tetrapetala) by bellbirds (Anthornis melanura), apparently because of stoat (Mustela erminea) predation. We used a paired-catchment experiment in Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides forest at Craigieburn, central South Island, to measure whether stoat control could restore bellbird densities and mistletoe pollination.
European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) have recently been identified as a conservation threat in New Zealand. Hedgehogs were kill-trapped at 14 wetland and braided riverbed sites in the upper Waitaki Basin between late October 1997 and early February 1998 and their gut contents described. The most commonly eaten prey were Coleoptera (present in 81% of 192 guts), Lepidoptera (52%; n = 192), Dermaptera (49%; n = 192), Hymenoptera (42%; n = 192) and Orthoptera (31%; n = 319).
Artificial barriers, such as nest boxes and metal collars, are sometimes used, with variable success, to exclude predators and/or competitors from tree nests of vulnerable bird species. This paper describes the observed response of captive stoats (Mustela erminea) to a nest box design and an aluminium sheet collar used to protect kaka (Nestor meridionalis) nest cavities. The nest box, a prototype for kaka, was manufactured from PVC pipe. Initial trials failed to exclude stoats until an overhanging roof was added. All subsequent trials successfully prevented access by stoats.
Sympatric orange-fronted (Cyanoramphus malherbi) and yellow-crowned parakeets (C. auriceps) were surveyed in a South Island beech (Nothofagusspp.) forest during the spring and summer of 1998/99. Habitat use, behaviour and diet were recorded for each parakeet identified. A single observer did all recording. Both species were seen most frequently in the upper-most 20% of the forest stratum. Orange-fronted parakeets were seen more frequently than yellow-crowned parakeets in the lowest 20% of the forest stratum.
Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) were present on Whale Island (Moutohora), Bay of Plenty, New Zealand between about 1920 and 1987. During 1969-1971 they reduced by less than 10-35 % the breeding success of grey-faced petrels (Pterodroma macroptera gouldi), by eating unattended eggs and killing young or weak chicks. Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), introduced to Moutohora (240 ha surface area) in about 1968, multiplied rapidly to reach a density of up to 375 individuals/ha by early 1973.
Eradication of rodent species from some offshore islands has proved to be an effective means of conserving native animal communities and restoring natural ecological processes on the islands. As methods of eradication differ fur different rodent species, a truthful monitoring method to detect species presence and relative density is essential for a successful eradication programme.
Predation of yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) chicks may be reduced by removing stock around penguin breeding sites because long grass may reduce lagomorph abundance and hence small mammal predators. This study tests this hypothesis in the South Island, New Zealand. The abundance of lagomorph faeces (mainly rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, but some European hare Lepus europaeus) was used as an index of relative abundance of lagomorphs at 16 penguin breeding sites in winter 1991 and 37 sites in 1992/93.
Egg and chick loss at banded dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus) nests was studied over the 1992/93 season on the Tekapo, Ohau and Ahuriri Rivers in the Central South Island. Egg loss at nests was higher on the Ohau and Tekapo Rivers than on the Ahuriri River, especially early in the season. Only 11% and 12% of nests fledged one or more chicks on the Tekapo and Ohau Rivers respectively, compared to 42% of nests on the Ahuriri River. Nests on islands within the braided riverbeds were more successful than nests on the mainland.
Brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) were offered Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) eggs and day-old domestic chickens (Gallus gallus) during a captive feeding trial. Differences in feeding sign left by possums of differing sex, age class, and hunger were slight or absent. Possum feeding trial remains were also compared with remains of North Island robin (Petroica australis longipes) and North Island tomtit (Petroica macrocephala toitoi) eggs and chicks preyed on by ship rats (Rattus rattus) at videoed nests.
We studied the ecology of a high-density population of stoats in Fiordland, New Zealand, in the summer and autumn of 1990-91 following a Nothofagus seeding in 1990. Results are compared with findings from the same area in 1991-92, a period of lower stoat density. In the high-density year, minimum home ranges (revealed by radio-tracking) of four females averaged 69 ha and those of three males 93 ha; range lengths averaged 1.3 km and 2.5 km respectively. Neither difference was statistically significant.