New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2011) 35(3): 229- 235

Satellite tracking of kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) in Southland, New Zealand: impacts, movements and home range

Research Article
Ralph G. Powlesland 1,*
Les R. Moran 1
Debra M. Wotton 1,2
  1. Research & Development Group, Department of Conservation, PO Box 10-420, Wellington 6143, New Zealand
  2. Present address: Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Satellite transmitters (PTTs) were attached to four kereru (New Zealand pigeon, Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) in Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand, during 2005–06. The transmitters were used to monitor the birds’ locations, movements and home ranges. Attachment of the transmitters affected the behaviour and body condition of one of the kereru; no other negative effects, such as skin abrasion, were noticed. Fifty-four percent of locations recorded were of Argos location classes 1, 2 or 3 (accuracy of ?1 km), and were used to determine the birds’ movements and home range areas. Three of the kereru made flights across Foveaux Strait (a minimum distance of 33 km) to Stewart Island; the other remained around Invercargill. The maximum distance between their locations ranged from 11.4 to 101.9 km. Home ranges, as determined by cluster analysis, ranged from 619 ha to 31,732 ha, 100–1000 times greater than kereru home range areas estimated in previous studies. Given the long-distance movements kereru make, often to locations distant from roads and tracks, satellite telemetry is probably the most reliable and cost-effective method of determining their locations.