The Black Robin Project (http://www.blackrobin.org.nz/) is a multidisciplinary research project including ecologists, geneticists, mathematicians, and science communicators. It is hosted by researchers from Charles Sturt University in Australia and from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Its mission is to: (1) engage in research that will develop novel and more effective methods for the conservation of threatened and endangered island birds, and (2) promote awareness among the public about the threats facing island species and their ecosystems. Our flagship species is the black robin (Petroica traversi), which is endemic to the Chatham Islands, an isolated archipelago to the east of mainland New Zealand. In 1980, the entire world population of black robins was reduced to a single breeding pair. Only through intensive and effective conservation management by the New Zealand Wildlife Service (and later the Department of Conservation), did its population recover to ~200 birds by 1998 when management ceased. Black robins, like many other island birds, can only survive in areas free of exotic predators. The introduction of mammalian predators to New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands, has led to the extinction of >40% of New Zealand terrestrial bird species. Many species that survive today do so only on islands free of mammalian predators. Our study sites on Rangatira (South East) Island and Mangere Island are two such islands in the Chatham archipelago that not only provide safe habitat for the black robin, but also for several other threatened and endangered birds (e.g. shoreplover, Chatham Island parakeet, Chatham Island petrel, Chatham Island warbler etc.). Following a decade of little conservation management or monitoring of the black robin population, we initiated the Black Robin Project in 2007. The objectives of this project are: (1) to understand the habitat requirements for this species, (2) determine why the population has failed to increase since management ceased, and (3) to increase population numbers to a level that will allow some birds to be reintroduced to the main Chatham Island in order to create a third population that will be accessible to the public. As we work in close collaboration with the Department of Conservation (http://www.doc.govt.nz/), the Black Robin Project immediately contributes to the management of this species. Dr Massaro is a member of the Black Robin Recovery Programme, a governmental working group concerned with the management of the black robin and other endemic songbirds in the Chatham Islands. Through our Black Robin website (http://www.blackrobin.org.nz/), we offer free science communication resources for primary and secondary school teachers about the endangered wildlife of the Chatham Islands. The objective of the website it is to encourage teachers, students and the public to learn about this unique ecosystem, the reasons for the threatened status of many of its endemic species, and especially why preserving these islands free of exotic predators is so critical for the future survival of the wildlife.
Project 14258551 location - New Zealand, Oceania