New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2004) 28(1): 143- 149

Bird species diversity and abundance before and after eradication of possums and wallabies on Rangitoto Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

Short Communication
Eric B. Spurr 1
Sandra H. Anderson 2
  1. Landcare Research, P.O. Box 69, Lincoln 8152, New Zealand
  2. University of Auckland, Private Bag 92 019, Auckland, New Zealand

Five-minute bird counts were made on Rangitoto Island in 1998 and 1999, 8 and 9 years after the start, and 1 and 2 years after the completion of a 7-year programme that resulted in eradication of the introduced brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and brushtailed rock wallaby (Petrogale penicillata). These were compared with counts made in 1990 (immediately before the start of the programme), to assess whether bird species diversity and abundance had increased as a result of the eradications. The number of bird species detected in 1998/99 was similar to 1990. Five-minute counts of all species except silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) and tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) were also similar in 1998/99 to those in 1990. Silvereye and tui counts increased significantly. This is most likely a response to increased flowering of pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) and rewarewa (Knightia excelsa) as a result of possum (and wallaby) eradication. The most likely reason for no apparent increase in the abundance of other bird species is the continued presence of predators, especially ship rats (Rattus rattus), cats (Felis catus), and stoats (Mustela erminea).