Saturday, June 27, 2009

Workshop on Eradicating Invasive Species at Seabird Colonies in the Caribbean Region

Now that "An Inventory of the Breeding Seabirds of the Caribbean (Bradley and Norton, eds.)" has been published, the next step in the push to stop the mass extinction of seabirds from the Caribbean involves removing invasive species from islands. The techniques for removing rats, cats, goats, and other harmful exotics from island ecosystems have been carefully refined over the last 20 years, and the results of such work have been fantastic in terms of preventing extinctions on islands.

At the annual meeting of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) in Antigua (July 14-18, 2009), I will help lead a workshop on eradications along with Brad Keitt and Kirsty Swinnerton from the 501-C3 Island Conservation (Santa Cruz, CA), and Ann Sutton (Jamaica), Co-Chair of SCSCB's Seabird Working Group.

The workshop is tentatively scheduled for the 15th of July in the afternoon. We'll have presenations on what it takes to do an eradication, a preliminary look at seabird colonies in the West Indies and Caribbean where eradication would be feasible and ecologically beneficial, and an example of the process used to prioritize islands for eradiction and conduct an eradication in Micronesia. Then, we'll break up into geographic groups to talk about the roughly 450 seabird breeding sites that appear on initial investigation to be suitable for eradication. We've eliminated islands with large human populations (>500 people), significant marine shipping or docking operations (due to the inevitability of reintroduction), large size (>10,000 ha -- 24,700 acres), or those <20 m away from islands that have been eliminated (again, due to the inevitability of reintroduction).

This workshop will be one of the first at the meeting, and we hope to have 50-100 participants. If you're on the fence about attending the Antigua meeting, I hope you'll come and participate in our workshop and the meeting as a whole. If you're already planning to attend, please bring your notes on what you know about the presence of invasives around the Caribbean. Who knows, perhaps our next publication could be an inventory of invasive species on the islands of the Caribbean with you as an author for one of the chapters.