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      Effects of introducing threatened falcons into vineyards on abundance of passeriformes and bird damage to grapes.

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          Abstract

          Agricultural landscapes are becoming an important focus of animal conservation, although initiatives to conserve predators to date have rarely provided economic benefits to agricultural producers. We examined whether introduction to vineyards of the New Zealand Falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae), a species listed as threatened by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, affected the abundance of 4 species of Passeriformes that are considered vineyard pests or affected the amount of economic loss due to grape (Vitis vinifera) damage. Three of the species were introduced and remove whole grapes from bunches (Blackbird [Turdus merula], Song Thrush [Turdus philomelos], and Starling [Sturnus vulgaris]), whereas the one native species (Silvereye [Zosterops lateralis]) pecks holes in grapes. The introduction of falcons to vineyards was associated with a significant decrease in the abundance of introduced passerines and with a 95% reduction in the number of grapes removed relative to vineyards without falcons. Falcon presence was not associated with a change in the number of Silvereyes, but there was a 55% reduction in the number of grapes pecked in vineyards with falcons. Our results indicate that, relative to damage in vineyards without falcons, the presence of a falcon could potentially result in savings of US$234/ha for the Sauvignon Blanc variety of grapes and $326/ha for Pinot Noir variety of grapes.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Conserv. Biol.
          Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
          1523-1739
          0888-8892
          Feb 2012
          : 26
          : 1
          Affiliations
          [1 ] School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand. saramaekross@gmail.com
          Article
          10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01756.x
          22010952
          d8f22cca-7419-4493-ad8a-3e7ad35f7e2b
          ©2011 Society for Conservation Biology.
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