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Selection of trees for sap-foraging by a native New Zealand parrot, the Kaka (Nestor meridionalis), in an urban landscape

Kerry E. Charles A and Wayne L. Linklater A B

A Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington, 6140, New Zealand.
B Corresponding author. Email: wayne.linklater@vuw.ac.nz

Emu - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MU14025
Submitted: 27 September 2013  Accepted: 15 May 2014   Published online: 22 August 2014


 
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Abstract

The Kaka (Nestor meridionalis), a native New Zealand parrot, forages for sap by removing bark from trees, which leads to damage to trees and conflict with residents of Wellington City. There is little known about selection of trees for sap-foraging by this species. We sampled 282 trees in parks and reserves in Wellington City in order to determine the characteristics that make trees prone to sap-feeding by Kaka. Damage from sap-feeding was observed on 85 trees, of 10 different species. Exotic trees were significantly more likely to be damaged than native species. Using an information-theoretic approach to model selection and averaging, we found diameter at breast height (DBH) to be the most influential predictor of selection for tree species routinely damaged. Mean DBH of damaged trees was twice that of undamaged trees. Topographic exposure of the site was also an influential predictor. Kaka selected larger trees at more exposed sites for sap-feeding. Monitoring to identify trees that may pose a hazard to people as a result of sap-feeding should be targeted on large exotic conifers at exposed sites. Long-term management may involve planting species that are favoured for sap-feeding yet more resilient to the effects of bark damage. Mitigating problems caused by urban wildlife is important because such conflict can reduce support for wildlife conservation in cities.

Additional keywords: bark-stripping, foraging preference, sap-feeding, urban wildlife, wildlife damage.


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