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The Diet of the Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) Before and After Goat Eradication Public Deposited

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  • Eradication is often the preferred method of invasive species management on islands; however, its consequences may affect native communities. Feral goats (Capra hircus), donkeys (Equus asinus), and pigs (Sus scrofa) were eradicated from Santiago Island in the Galapagos Archipelago by 2005. Because feral goats were the dominant herbivores on Santiago Island until their eradication, we examined the consequences of goat eradication on the diet of territorial Galapagos Hawks (Buteo galapagoensis) through a comparative study of observations of prey deliveries to nests before (1999–2000) and after (2010–2011) eradication. We predicted that vegetation recovery after eradication would limit the hawks’ hunting success of terrestrial prey and they would therefore switch to predominantly arboreal prey. We did not observe the predicted switch from terrestrial to arboreal prey in the diet; on the contrary, after goat eradication, hawks delivered significantly fewer arboreal prey items. However, introduced black rats (Rattus rattus) represented a significantly greater proportion of the hawks’ diet after eradication, particularly in moderate to dense vegetation (arid and transition habitats), replacing other prey items. Overall, 73% of total prey biomass delivered after eradication consisted of introduced rats, compared to only 20% before eradication. This study documents the complex interaction of predators and introduced prey, even in relatively simple ecosystems.
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  • Jaramillo, M., Donaghy-Cannon, M., Vargas, F. H., & Parker, P. G. (2016). The Diet of the Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis) Before and After Goat Eradication. Journal of Raptor Research, 50(1), 33-44. doi:10.3356/rapt-50-01-33-44.1
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  • 50
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  • The Galapagos National Park Service provided the necessary permits (#PC-42-09, PC-25-11) and assistance, and the Charles Darwin Research Station provided logistic support. The study was supported in large part by The Peregrine Fund (thanks to Paxon "Packy" Offield and the Offield Family Foundation). Further funding was provided by the Galapagos Conservancy and the Swiss Friends of Galapagos. While conducting this research, MCJ received a grant from the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. This publication is contribution number 2124 of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands.
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