The breeding success of bird species with unfavourable conservation status, such as Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) and Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), is seriously threatened by the black rat (Rattus rattus), as demonstrated by international scientific literature. This negative trend is occurring in several Mediterranean islands (Tavolara, Pianosa and Montecristo) as well as the Pontine Archipelago. Furthermore, the uncontrolled growth of invasive alien plant species in the Mediterranean islands has led to the degradation of many habitats, threatening endemic plants and favouring the expansion of the black rat population. This problem is also occurring in Pontine Archipelago, which is threatened by Carpobrotus spp.
The LIFE PonDerat project aims to: Eradicate and control alien animal species (such as rodents and feral goats) in order to restore island habitats (6220*, 3170*, 5320, 5330, 1240) and communities and improve the breeding performances of native species (mainly Calonectris diomedea and Puffinus yelkouan); Fence off key land plots on Zannone island in order to exclude wild alien animals (mouflons) and to restore habitats of Community interest (9340); Eradicate invasive alien plant species (Carpobrotus spp.) on S. Stefano, Ventotene and Palmarola islands, as well as to improve the success of rat eradication; Implement tight bio-security measures to prevent rat reinvasions.
Expected results: Palmarola, S. Stefano and Ventotene Increase of breeding success (in the short term) and population size (in the long term) of seabirds (for Calonectris diomedea and Puffinus yelkouan expected results are comparable to those obtained at Zannone island (i.e. 80% productivity) and at La Scola islet in Tuscany); Attraction of new breeding species (i.e. Hidrobates pelagicus) in the long term; Increase of biodiversity and biomass, and the restoration of ecosystems functions with plant species whose seeds are eaten by rats; Improvement of habitat conditions for bird species breeding on the ground or close to it, for migrating birds present stopping over and for reptiles, invertebrates and vegetation; Improvement of sanitary conditions for island inhabitants at Ventotene and for tourists (in all three islands); Maintenance of long-term low risk of recolonisation; Eradication of Carpobrotus spp. and an increase in awareness of the alien plant species issue; and Recovery of habitats 5330, 6220*, 3170* at Palmarola.
Ponza Improvement of sanitary conditions (through the reduction of the risk of transmission of zoonoses via rats) for inhabitants of the area surrounding the harbour.
Zannone Maintenance of long-term low risk of recolonisation; and Restoration of Holm oak forest (habitat 9340) ecosystem functions by the recovery of natural regeneration in the fenced area (10% of the total habitat available on the island).