Invasive species and Pacific island bird conservation: a selective review of recent research featuring case studies of Swinhoe's storm petrel and the Okinawa and Guam rail.
Nowhere are the negative impacts of invasive species, such as ecosystem modification, predation, parasitism, and disease, more apparent than in the Pacific islands, where human contact triggered a massive avian extinction event that is still ongoing. Island bird species are inherently vulnerable to extinction due to their small, isolated populations and lack of evolved defenses against many predators. To prevent further extinctions, effective bird conservation strategies must be implemented to mitigate invasive species' impacts, which often interact synergistically and collectively comprise some of the greatest threats to global biodiversity. At the 2014 International Ornithological Congress in Tokyo, Japan, researchers convened a symposium to address research and management of invasive species to benefit Pacific island bird conservation. Speakers presented research and conservation efforts from Japan, Korea, Guam, the Galápagos, and New Zealand, highlighting novel, poorly known threats to birds (e.g., mortality from invasive plant entanglement and invasive nest parasites) and providing updates on ongoing efforts to prevent island endemic species extinctions driven by invasive predators. In this paper we provide new details of research and conservation efforts on Swinhoe's storm petrel (Oceanodroma monhris), the Okinawa rail (Gallirallus okinawae), and the Guam rail (G. owstoni), and put this research in context by briefly reviewing and synthesizing other relevant, recent studies on impacts of invasive species as they affect Pacific island bird conservation. We conclude by highlighting successful management strategies, recommending improvements for ongoing conservation efforts, and suggesting directions for future research.