Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Killer Mice Bring Albatross Population Closer To Extinction

Date:
January 1, 2009
Source:
BirdLife International
Summary:
The critically endangered Tristan albatross has suffered its worst breeding season ever. The number of chicks making it through to fledging has decreased rapidly, and it is now five times lower than it should be because introduced predatory mice are eating the chicks alive on Gough island -- the bird's only home and a South Atlantic territory of the United Kingdom.

Introduced mice are responsible for declines in Tristan Albatross and Gough Bunting.
Credit: Copyright Ross Wanless/Image courtesy of BirdLife International

The critically endangered Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) has suffered its worst breeding season ever, according to research by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK). The number of chicks making it through to fledging has decreased rapidly, and it is now five times lower than it should be because introduced predatory mice are eating the chicks alive on Gough island -- the bird’s only home and a South Atlantic territory of the United Kingdom.

The mice are also affecting Gough Island’s other Critically Endangered endemic species, Gough Bunting Rowettia goughensis. A recent survey of the bunting’s population revealed that the population has halved within the last two decades. Now there are only an estimated 400-500 pairs left.

“We’ve known for a long time that the mice were killing albatross chicks in huge numbers.However, we now know that the albatrosses have suffered their worst year on record”, said Richard Cuthbert, an RSPB scientist who has been researching the mice problem on Gough Island since 2000. “We also know that the mice are predators on the eggs and chicks of the Gough bunting and mice predation is the main factor behind their recent decline.”

Despite the grave situation for both species on Gough Island, UK government funding to plan for and take forward the eradication of mice is still lacking. This is despite recognition from two prominent UK House of Common's Committees that the "biodiversity found in the UK Overseas Territories is equally valuable and at a greater risk of loss" (than the UK) and that current levels of funding are "grossly inadequate". Eradicating mice is the single action that would solve the primary conservation threat facing both species.

"Without major conservation efforts, the Tristan Albatross will become extinct" —John Croxall, Chair of BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme

A complete survey of the Tristan Albatross on Gough Island in January showed there were 1764 adult albatrosses incubating eggs. A later survey revealed that only 246 chicks had survived to fledging.

“Tristan Albatross is being hit by a double whammy. The chicks are predated by mice and the adults and juvenilesare being killed by longline fishing vessels”, said John Croxall, Chair of BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme. “Unsustainable numbers are being killed on land and at sea. Without major conservation efforts, the Tristan Albatross will become extinct”.

The RSPB has been involved in a feasibility study to test whether it’s possible to remove the mice. So far, the trials look promising, giving both species a more optimistic future. Funding of this year's work on Gough has come from the Overseas Territory Environment Programme (OTEP).

“Tackling alien invasives species in UK Overseas Territories is one of10 Key Actions to preventextinctions that BirdLife has highlighted in a new publication, Critically Endangered Birds: a global audit”, said Richard Grimmett, BirdLife’s Head of Conservation. “It is also attainable, the removal of rats from seabird islands has been conducted at many other sites across the world with great success.”

Alistair Gammell, the RSPB’s International Director continued “It is essential that the UK Government commits adequate funding for the protection of the many threatened species found on the UK’s Overseas Territories. We are challenging the Government to prove its commitment to conservation by properly funding conservation initiatives in these territories, and most urgently to commit to funding the removal of mice from Gough.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BirdLife International. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BirdLife International. "Killer Mice Bring Albatross Population Closer To Extinction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228192127.htm>.
BirdLife International. (2009, January 1). Killer Mice Bring Albatross Population Closer To Extinction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228192127.htm
BirdLife International. "Killer Mice Bring Albatross Population Closer To Extinction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081228192127.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins