Estimating the extent of seabird egg depredation by introduced Common Mynas on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

Common Mynas Acridotheres tristis were introduced to the small, isolated barren island of Ascension in the tropical Atlantic Ocean in the 1880s. The founder population of 52 pairs increased at a rate of 2 % per annum. Mynas cause egg losses in other species by puncturing and consuming eggs, puncturing eggs with no consumption or displacing incubating birds that then desert viable eggs. The principal target seabirds of Mynas on Ascension Island are Sooty Terns Onychoprion fuscatus which number 388,000 birds and constitute 97 % of all seabirds on the island. Five censuses of Mynas and 20 of the Sooty Tern population were carried out between 1994 and 2015, and Myna depredation was monitored on 10 occasions between 2000 and 2008. Of all seabird eggs laid annually, we estimated that 19 % of them were depredated by c. 1000 Mynas. In declining severity of impacts of Mynas on all eggs lost, we estimated that 40 % was attributable to desertion, 39 % to puncturing eggs with no consumption and 21 % to puncturing and consumption. As far as we know, our study is the first to estimate the scale of seabird egg depredation by Mynas. Care is needed when applying our findings to other seabird populations. The scarcity of alternative food sources and the ease of locating high densities of Sooty Tern eggs on Ascension Island may have magnified the frequency of egg depredation by Mynas. That said, it is clear that Mynas are major egg predators and the severity of their impacts on native avian populations can be high.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843–857
JournalBiological Invasions
Volume19
Issue number3
Early online date18 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Keywords

  • Non-native species, Population size , Predation rate, Sooty Tern