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Abundance, distribution and breeding success of the endemic Gough Island finch Rowettia goughensis between 2009 and 2018


Jones, CW and Risi, MM and Osborne, AM and Parker, GC and Rexer-Huber, K and Le Bouard, F and Cleeland, JB and Lawrence, K and Kinchin-Smith, D and Witcutt, E and Starnes, T and Bond, AL and Ryan, PG and Oppel, S, Abundance, distribution and breeding success of the endemic Gough Island finch Rowettia goughensis between 2009 and 2018, Emu, 120, (3) pp. 230-238. ISSN 0158-4197 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2020 BirdLife Australia

DOI: doi:10.1080/01584197.2020.1773859


The impacts of invasive house mice Mus musculus have received increasing attention on islands where mice are the only invasive rodent species. On Gough Island, the impact of mice on seabirds has increased over the past decade, but the current population status of the Critically Endangered Gough Finch Rowettia goughensis is uncertain. Based on nest monitoring at high elevation sites in 2009 (n =37) and 2018 (n =45), we found mean nest survival of 55% in both years and a fecundity of 1.310.69 fledglings per pair in 2018. Density estimates from territory mapping in 2009 and 2018 were similar to past estimates and indicated little change in upland habitat. Density estimates from line transect distance sampling surveys around the island from 2018 to 2020 revealed higher densities in moorland (55.4 birds/km2) and wet heath (29.5 birds/km2) habitats, compared to coastal tussock (10.9 birds/km2) and lowland fern bush habitat (2.6 birds/km2). Extrapolating these habitat-specific densities across the island indicates a global population of Gough Finches in 2020 of 1917 individuals (95% CI: 15502500). Future population surveys using the same design could detect population changes of 40% or more. Our population estimate provides an important baseline for future monitoring following the planned eradication of house mice from Gough Island in 2021. However, we highlight that greater monitoring effort may be needed to increase the power to detect smaller population changes after an invasive species eradication.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:songbird, conservation, invasive species, transect survey, territory mapping, power analysis
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Cleeland, JB (Dr Jaimie Cleeland)
ID Code:148667
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2022-02-01
Last Modified:2022-03-09

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