New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2001) 25(2): 65- 69

Differences in habitat selection between Chatham petrels (Pterodroma axillaris) and broad-billed prions (Pachyptila vittata): implications for management of burrow competition

Short Communication
Wendy Sullivan 1,2,*
Kerry-Jayne Wilson 1
  1. Ecological and Entomology Group, P.O. Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand
  2. Address for correspondence: 112 Centaurus Rd, Cashmere, Christchurch 2, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

The Chatham petrel (Pterodroma axillaris) is an endangered species restricted to a single population on South East Island, Chatham Islands, New Zealand. The key threat to Chatham petrel breeding success is interference with chicks by broad-billed prions (Pachyptila vittata) prospecting for burrows for their oncoming breeding season. This burrow competition has resulted from alteration to breeding habitat by humans throughout the Chatham Islands. Understanding habitat preferences may enable managers to manipulate habitat to reduce burrow competition and will be essential in order to translocate Chatham petrels to a proposed second colony. Habitat characteristics surrounding both Chatham petrel and broad-billed prion burrows were quantified and selection ratios compared. Both Chatham petrels and broad-billed prions selected habitat factors associated with mature forest. Chatham petrels avoided a large number of habitat characteristics, which suggests they were habitat specific, and their preferred habitat is now limited. Broad- billed prions used a wide range of habitat characteristics, which suggests they are not habitat specific. This study recommends that selection values be used when deciding on the best location to establish a second Chatham petrel colony.