Rapid commencement of ecosystem recovery following aerial baiting on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island



Introduced rabbits have severely impacted the terrestrial ecosystem of sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. Here we describe first observations of rapid recovery of an important plant species following the commencement of a vertebrate pest eradication plan. The tussock grass Poa foliosa, a major component of the Macquarie Island landscape, has been severely impacted by rabbit grazing with large-scale reductions in cover across the island observed at times over the last 50 years. Preliminary aerial baiting for rabbits and rodents commenced in winter 2010, and within 6 months, we observed substantial regrowth of tussock grass. The rapid re-emergence of this grass over such a short time period following localised removal of rabbits has positive implications for the island’s recovery and provides insight for restoration monitoring.