Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata population decline at a nickel-mining site: a critical need for adapted conservation strategies
|Author(s)||Pagenaud Angélique1, 2, Bourgeois Karen2, Dromzée Sylvain2, Thibault Martin1, Chagneau Guillaume2, Barré Nicolas4, Bouyé Élodie3, Chartendrault Vincent5, Delelis Nicolas4, Dijoux Julien2, Patrois Magalie3, Spaggiari Jérôme6, Vidal Eric1, 2|
|Affiliation(s)||1 : UMRENTROPIE, IRD, IFREMER, CNRS, University of Reunion, University of New Caledonia, BP A5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia
2 : Aix-Marseille Universite, CNRS, IRD, University of Avignon, IMBE, Centre IRD Noumea - BP A5, 98848 Noume´a Cedex, New Caledonia
3 : KONIAMBO NICKEL SAS, Route Territoriale 1, Site de Vavouto - 98833 Voh, BP 679- 98860 Kone, New Caledonia
4 : IAC - Institut Agronomique neo-Caledonien, Port-Laguerre, BP73, 98890 Paýta, New Caledonia
5 : LPO Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, delegation territoriale Drome-Ardeche, 18 place Genissieu, 26120 Chabeuil, France.
6 : SCO - Societe Caledonienne d’Ornithologie - BP 13641, 98803, Noumea cedex, New Caledonia
|Source||Bird Conservation International (0959-2709) (Cambridge University Press (CUP)), 2022-06 , Vol. 32 , N. 2 , P. 246-258|
|WOS© Times Cited||1|
|Keyword(s)||mining site, Pseudobulweria rostrata, vocal activity, restoration|
New Caledonia hosts a large part of the world’s breeding population of the Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata. This rare, cryptic and little-studied seabird nests locally in the mountains up to 1,200 m in altitude, particularly in ultramafic (i.e. nickel-rich) areas where mining activity is a major threat. The considerable development of mining activities in New Caledonia over the past decade raises concerns about its potential impacts on breeding populations through both direct habitat destruction and side effects such as pollution or repeated disturbances. This context calls for a dedicated assessment of the persistence of local populations to guide the design of an adapted conservation strategy and potential restoration programmes. We investigated the impact of mining activities on a Tahiti Petrel population when surveyed pre-mining (2004–2007) and following a period of full mining (2017–2018). The vocal activity was assessed at a total of 114 night-call count stations spread over the Koniambo massif. Areas with ground-originated vocal activity were then searched during daytime for nesting evidence. Finally, georeferenced aerial photos were used to estimate habitat degradation as the percentage of bare soil cover (PBSC) within a 400-m radius around each call count station. Our study revealed a dramatic decline in the Tahiti Petrel vocal activity and a desertion of breeding habitats during the full-mining period compared to the pre-mining period. In light of these results, we recommend designing safe breeding areas and combining restoration methods including social attraction, predation control and artificial burrows at mining sites.