The hihi/stitchbird (Notiomystis cincta), an endangered New Zealand endemic species, has one self-sustaining population not subject to human intervention, located on Little Barrier Island (Te Hauturu-o-Toi), in the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland. All other hihi populations have been derived from Little Barrier Island and all require active management. Changes in the population of hihi on Little Barrier Island are, therefore, of great conservation interest.
Supplementary feeding has proven to be a successful conservation tool for many species, including New Zealand’s hihi (stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta). Previous research has shown supplementary feeding to substantially increase hihi reproductive success at regenerating forest sites, but suggested that it would have reduced benefit in mature forest habitat. Here we report the first direct test of the effect of supplementary feeding on hihi reproductive success in mature forest, using data from the recently reintroduced population at Maungatautari Ecological Island.
Extra-pair copulation (EPC) occurs frequently in hihi (stitchbird), Notiomystis cincta, resulting in a high rate of extra-pair paternity. It occurs despite resistance by females, and is often witnessed by the paired male. We studied male behaviour to assess whether extra-pair males were timing copulation attempts to coincide with peaks in female fertility, and whether paired males were behaving in ways to reduce cuckoldry. Extra-pair males concentrated copulation attempts at peaks in female fertility.
Hihi (Notiomystis cincta) were reintroduced to Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua, New Zealand, in September 1994, and two years later there was an aerial drop of brodifacoum cereal pellets aimed to eradicate mice (Mus musculus). Using Program MARK, we analyzed data from resighting surveys to assess whether hihi had lower than normal survival in the 6-week interval following the drop. The resighting data were collected on a regular basis over a 3-year period, from 1994-97, allowing us to control for yearly and seasonal variation in resighting and survival probabilities.
In 1995 and 1996, release of 51 hihi (stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta) onto Tiritiri Matangi Island (wild caught on Hauturu, Little Barrier Island) marked the start of a research and ecological restoration success story. Although establishment of populations of hihi elsewhere in New Zealand has proven to be difficult, the population on Tiritiri Matangi Island has grown to c. 150 individuals and has become one of New Zealand’s few detailed case-study species.
One of the quandaries faced by ecological researchers is whether they should continue to invest in ongoing projects or whether they should shift their attention to new species or systems that may have received less attention. While research on Tiritiri Matangi has touched on a wide range of species and topics, the long-term projects on the reintroduced robin population (20 years) and hihi population (17 years) have accounted for the bulk of the published research, with 57 papers featuring these populations published to the end of 2009.