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Publication Title | Tetiaroa Rat and Seabird Survey 7th 13th July 2009

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Tetiaroa Rat and Seabird Survey 7th – 13th July 2009

James Russell and Lucie Faulquier University of California – Berkeley and Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie MANU

Four scientists visited Tetiaroa from July 7-13. The goal of this scientific mission was to determine the species and distribution of introduced rats on all motu, and monitor the status of breeding seabirds. Relict populations of Polynesian rats were found on most motu, being over-invaded by black rats on the north-western motu. Seabird colonies were generally associated with-rat free motu; small seabirds such as noddies and terns only breeding on rat-free motu, although larger seabirds such as frigates and boobies breed on rat-invaded motu. Introduced cats and rats are being eradicated from Onetahi, although rat reinvasion from Honuea is likely. Red-vented bulbuls were recorded for the first time on Tetiaroa. Introduced species are a major threat to Tetiaroa, and are most likely to arrive via Onetahi/Honuea, Rimatuu and Hiraanae. Polynesian rats should be eradicated from Reiono as soon as possible to facilitate seabird recovery, and both rat species should be eradicated from Honuea to prevent reinvasion of Onetahi. Biosecurity protocols are required to prevent new species arriving at Tetiaroa, or moving between motu. Some level of regulation on eco- tourism to Tahuna Iti (‘bird island’) should be introduced.


Tetiaroa atoll (3366 ha; ; 17°05’S, 149°30’W), lies 50km north of Moorea and Tahiti in the Society Islands of French Polynesia (Fig. 1). The atoll consists of 12 vegetated motu (Fig. 2; Table 1) and an emerging sandbank (Motu One) east of Tahuna Iti, circling a large lagoon. Names of motu vary among reports and we follow the most recent consensus.

Table 1: Motu sizes.

Onetahi Honuea Tiaruanu Tauini Auroa Hiraanae Oroatera Aie

Reiono Tahuna Rahi Tahuna Iti Rimatuu


Size (ha)


28.0 163.4 6.7 3.9 34.0 81.4 2.4 21.4 0.5 5.9 88.3


Image | Tetiaroa Rat and Seabird Survey 7th 13th July 2009

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