*Zoological Laboratory, University of Groningen, PO Box 14.9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands.
Breeding of the Seychelles Magpie Robin Copsychus sechellarum and implications for its conservation
Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
Volume 138, Issue 3, pages 485–498, July 1996
How to Cite
KOMDEUR, J. (1996), Breeding of the Seychelles Magpie Robin Copsychus sechellarum and implications for its conservation. Ibis, 138: 485–498. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1996.tb08069.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Revision accepted 25 August 1995
The total population of the Seychelles Magpie Robin Copsychus sechellarum declined from 38–41 birds in 12–13 territories in 1977–1978 to 17–21 birds in eight to nine territories in 1988–1990 and was entirely confined to Fregate Island (210 ha) in the Seychelles. After a successful cat eradication program in 1981–1982, recruitment improved, although the abandonment of agriculture had caused a reduction in the amount of feeding habitat and hence in the carrying capacity of the island. The population declined because of the failure of recruitment to compensate for the annual adult mortality. Foraging activity of the Magpie Robin was greater in high-quality territories (measured by soil invertebrates available), leading to increased reproductive success. Through supplementary feeding, five times as many recruits were produced. Of the 11.5 potential annual breeding recruits, 5.3 are required to compensate for adult mortality, and the other 6.2 recruits can be regarded as “surplus” contributing to an increase. Magpie Robins prefer to breed in rotten trees, which are a scarce resource. The greater the distance between the nest site and feeding areas, the less time was spent in incubation and nest guarding, resulting in greater egg loss. Because of lack of suitable areas for establishing territories, many young Magpie Robins became “floaters”. Nest disturbance, both by these floaters and by the introduced Indian Mynah Acridotheres tristis, had adverse effects on the breeding success of robins. A recovery plan has been designed to save the Magpie Robin. Territories have been improved for feeding (by tree planting) and for breeding (by providing nestboxes and reducing nest disturbances). Given the vulnerability of one small island, the presence of surplus birds (supported mainly by supplementary food) and the suitability of neighbouring Aride Island (68 ha), successful translocations to this island took place in 1992 and 1994. Given the presence now of 47 individuals on two islands, it is hoped that the species will pull back from the brink of extinction.