Avian Conservation on Ascension Island
Dr Jim Reynolds Centre for Ornithology, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham
Ascension Island is a UK Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic and a major breeding site for many seabird species. We study Sooty Terns (Onychoprion fuscatus) that breed on remote, tropical oceanic islands like Ascension in huge colonies. Subject to severe predation from introduced mammalian and avian species, the eradication of Domestic Cats (Felis silvestris catus) was expected to result in seabird population recovery. However, the tern population remains stubbornly deflated (i.e. only some 350,000 birds!) compared with a population of 2 million birds only some 50 years ago. In this talk I will explore the various pressures on the current population, describe conservation efforts over the last 20 years and present new findings, including tracks of migrating birds, which might help us to restore the island to its former seabird glory.