Author: Blanvillain, C., Salducci, J-M., Tutururai, G., Maeura, M.
Title: Impact of introduced birds on the recovery of the Tahiti Flycatcher (Pomarea nigra), a critically endangered forest bird of Tahiti
Journal: Biological Conservation
Keywords: Tahiti Flycatcher; recovery programme; introduced birds; indian Mynah; Red-vented Bulbul
Abstract: In 1998, only 25 Tahiti Flycatchers (Pomarea nigra), a forest bird endemic to Tahiti (French Polynesia) remained. A recovery programme, aimed at nest protection through both rodent control and tree banding, was initiated. At this time it was supposed that the species was mainly the victim of island infestation by ship rats (Rattus rattus). In the 3 years of this study 54 nests were found and 17 fledged young produced, of which 12 survived the early stage of fledging. Despite an excellent 1999 breeding season and efficient nest protection against rodents, only five of 19 nests produced fledged young in 2000. This was related to higher (P=0.002 and 0.015 respectively) Indian Mynah (Acridotheres tristis) encounters and aggressive interactions in 2000 and 1998 than in 1999. Indian Mynah encounters and interactions were also higher during reproductive activities (and particularly at incubation and nestling stages) in comparison with the non breeding period (P <0.001). In contrast, Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer) encounters and interactions were more uniform throughout. Significantly more Indian Mynah and Red-vented Bulbul were observed in flycatcher territories which experienced nest failure or early fledgling death in comparison with those which experienced reproductive success (P=0.003 and 0.002 respectively). This strongly suggests that these two introduced species represent an important threat to the Tahiti Flycatcher’s survival. Currently, young birds (less than 4 years old) represent 42% of the population, an increase from 12% at the start of the recovery programme.