Black robin monitoring

Subject: Black robin monitoring
From: Hugo Phillipps <>
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 09:22:51 +1100 (EST)
For the interest of BIRDING-AUS - a message plucked from the ORNITH-L list.

>Approved-By:  Jeanette Bider <>
>Date:         Thu, 18 Dec 1997 08:19:39 -0600
>Reply-To:     The scientific discussion of Ornithology
>              <>
>Sender:       The scientific discussion of Ornithology
>              <>
>From:         "KENNEDY, Euan [EPU,CHC]" <>
>Subject:      Black robin monitoring
>New Zealand's Department of Conservation is presently reviewing its
>commitment to close-order monitoring of the Chatham Island black robin
>(Petroica traversi). The review is prompted by the need to consider
>competing species management priorities, in the context of severe
>resource constraints.
>Black robins survive in two small populations on the island reserves of
>Mangere and Rangatira (South East) in the Chatham Islands group. The
>species now numbers in excess of 200 birds, each of them individually
>colour-marked and behaviourally conditioned for easy observation.
>Active management of the robins ceased in 1989, but because the species
>is so intensely inbred (all living robins are descended from one female
>-- the revered 'Old Blue'), its populations have been monitored very
>closely since that time.
>>From the point at which Don Merton intervened to rescue the species 22
>years ago, the genealogical record of the robins is almost entirely
>intact. Trends in abundance, fertility, distribution and behaviour have
>been recorded also.
>In these respects, the species offers a rare opportunity to observe the
>recovery of a geographically isolated forest-dwelling insectivorous
>species as it emerges from a very severe genetic bottle-neck.
>A substantial investment has been made to rescue the robins from
>extinction and to guard against decline. For this reason, the Department
>is anxious to ensure that it has considered all authoritative views on
>alternative monitoring regimes and the research potential of the robins
>before it abandons or reduces contact with the populations. It seeks
>comment on the wisdom of these two options.
>It should be noted that once monitoring is reduced from its current
>intensity, contact with entire populations will be lost rapidly, and
>recovered only with the greatest of expense and difficulty. The lapse in
>the genealogical record will never be remedied.
>A discussion document has been produced which traverses the history of
>the robin recovery programme, the quite significant threats confronting
>the species, and the implications of concluding or reducing the
>monitoring regime. This paper is obtainable from the address below, or
>electronically from <>.
>Comment is invited by the end of February 1998.  Expressions of research
>interest are also welcome.
>Euan Kennedy
>Co-ordinator, Black Robin Recovery Group
>Department of Conservation
>Private Bag
>New Zealand
>Phone   64 3 379 9758
>        64 3 371 3715 (Direct Line)
>Fax     64 3 365 1388

Hugo Phillipps,
Birds Australia Conservation & Liaison,
Australian Bird Research Centre,
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East, VIC 3123, Australia.
Tel: (03) 9882 2622. Fax: (03) 9882 2677.
O/s: +61 3 9882 2622. Fax: +61 3 9882 2677.
Email: <>
Web Homepage:

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