Yelkouan Shearwater Population Rebound on Tavolara Island

Almost two years after the removal of invasive rats from Tavolara Island, Italy Yelkouan Shearwater fledglings seem to be thriving.

One of the most effective conservation actions available today is the removal of invasive species from islands. Time and time again, islands seemingly come back to life as if overnight in the absence of invasive predators. On Tavolara Island, almost two years after the removal of invasive rats this same theme emerges as Yelkouan Shearwater fledglings multiply.

In autumn of 2017, Città di Olbia, Life Puffinus Tavolara, Natura 2000, Ministero Dell’Ambiente E Della Tutela Del Terrirorio E Del Mare, Area Marina Protetta Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo, Nature Environment Management Operators (NEMO), and Island Conservation to removed invasive rodents from Tavolara Island to help restore the island and protect two-thirds of the world’s Yelkouan Shearwater population.

Almost two years later, these small black and white seabirds seem to be thriving. From only 892 Yelkouan Shearwater fledglings in 2017, when invasive rats were still present, to an estimated 7784 fledglings in 2019. Ensuring the safety of shearwaters on Tavolara is vital since an estimated one to two-thirds of their global population nests on the island.

Restoring Tavolara has had a clear benefit for Yelkouan Shearwaters in the past two years which are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. The removal of invasive rats has also benefited many other native species and the entire ecosystem of the island, where there are rare plant species are recovering and the island is returning to a state pre-invasive species.

Featured photo: Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) near La Grande-Motte–pélagique, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. Credit: John Reynolds

About Emily Heber

Emily is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Zoology. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education has allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the communication team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and tries to SCUBA dive whenever possible. Emily is excited to join the Island Conservation team and to help share the amazing work that is being done here.

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