a1 Freira Conservation Project, Av. do Infante, 26, 9000-015 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.
a2 Hooper's Farm, Offwell, Honiton, Devon, EX14 9SR, UK.
a3 School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 228, RG6 6AJ, UK.
a4 Museu Municipal do Funchal (História Natural), Rua da Mouraria, 31, 9004-546 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.
The breeding success of Cory's shearwaters Calonectris diomedea borealis at its important Atlantic colony on Selvagem Grande has been monitored periodically at two study plots since 1982. A successful eradication programme was implemented to remove two alien invasive mammals, rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus and house mice Mus musculus, from the island during 2002. The availability of long-term breeding data for Cory's shearwaters on Selvagem Grande provided a unique opportunity to study the effects of the removal of rabbits and mice on seabird breeding. Annual observation of approximately 400 Cory's nests showed that significantly more birds fledged from both study sites in the five breeding seasons after the eradication than in the 13 seasons prior to it for which reliable breeding data were available. The numbers of young birds present at the time of fledging were an average of 47 and 23% greater than pre-eradication numbers at the two study sites. The eradication of rabbits and mice was simultaneous and, therefore, it was impossible to attribute the increased breeding success of Cory's shearwaters to the removal of one or other species. However, both are known to have adverse impacts on the breeding of nesting seabirds. These observations provide important justification for the implementation of further programmes for the removal of alien invasive mammals from oceanic islands.
(Received April 11 2007)
(Reviewed June 28 2007)
(Accepted August 21 2007)