New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1998) 22(1): 17- 24

Estimating the home range and carrying capacity for takahe (Porphyrio mantelli) on predator-free offshore islands: Implications for future management

Research Article
Christine J. Ryan  
Ian G. Jamieson *
  1. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Predator-free offshore islands play an important role in the conservation of many of New Zealand's endemic species. Takahe (Porphyrio mantelli) have small populations established on four offshore islands and although hatching success is lower than that of the wild mainland population in Fiordland, juvenile and adult survival is high and populations are growing exponentially. Accurate estimates of home range size and potential carrying capacities are therefore essential for the future management of the population as a whole. The mean home range size of takahe pairs in one study population on Mana Island (217 ha) was 2.8 ± 1.9 ha. The island was assessed for current and maximum available area for takahe and the potential carrying capacity was estimated at 22—53 pairs. Current and maximum available areas were also used to calculate carrying capacities on each of three other islands using two different estimates of mean home range size for Maud Island (7—34 pairs) and Kapiti Island (5—33 pairs) and one estimate of home range size for Tiritiri Matangi Island (25 pairs). A model of the population growth of takahe on islands predicted that estimated carrying capacities would be reached between 1997 and 2009. The urgency of planning to make use of the considerable potential of island populations of takahe is stressed.