Breeding biology and success of a reintroduced population of the critically endangered Puaiohi (Myadestes palmeri)

Erik J. Tweed, Jeffrey T. Foster, Bethany L. Woodworth, William B. Monahan, Jherime L. Kellerman, Alan Lieberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ultimate success of reintroduction programs for endangered species depends on the ability of reintroduced animals to breed in the wild. We studied the nesting success and breeding biology of a reintroduced population of Puaiohi (Myadestes palmeri) on the island of Kaua'i, Hawaii. Thirty-four captive-bred Puaiohi were released into the Alaka'i Swamp in 1999-2001 and monitored using radiotelemetry. Ten females and two males paired with wild and other released birds, including one polygynous trio. From March to September, 31 nests were built. Mean clutch size was 2.0 eggs, daily nest survival was 0.97 ± 0.01 (mean ± SE) and overall nest success was 0.40 ± 0.02. We confirmed predation, most probably by rats (Rattus spp.), as the greatest cause of nest failure, occurring at 38% of active nests with known fates, and causing the death of two nesting adult females. Ground-based rodent control proved ineffective at protecting nest attempts. Successful nests fledged an average of 1.4 young each (n = 10), and 85% of fledglings survived at least two weeks. Importantly, breeding behavior and success were comparable to those of wild Puaiohi. This is the first record of breeding in the wild from captive-bred endangered Hawaiian passerines. The ability of captive-bred Puaiohi to survive and breed successfully in the wild bodes well for future releases of this and other endangered passerines, but high predation rates on nests and nesting females highlights the importance of maintaining and restoring safe habitat for recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-763
Number of pages11
JournalAuk
Volume123
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Captive breeding
  • Hawaiian birds
  • Myadestes palmeri
  • Nest success
  • Puaiohi
  • Reintroduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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