Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Black Rat Does Not Bother Mediterranean Seabirds

Date:
October 6, 2009
Source:
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Summary:
Human activities have meant invasive species have been able to populate parts of the world to which they are not native and alter biodiversity there over thousands of years. Now, an international team of scientists has studied the impact of the black rat on bird populations on Mediterranean islands. Despite the rat's environmental impact, only the tiny European storm petrel has been affected over time by its enforced cohabitation with the rat.

A black rat (Rattus rattus) from the Mediterranean islands.
Credit: Lise Ruffino / SINC

Human activities have meant invasive species have been able to populate parts of the world to which they are not native and alter biodiversity there over thousands of years. Now, an international team of scientists has studied the impact of the black rat on bird populations on Mediterranean islands. Despite the rat's environmental impact, only the tiny European storm petrel has been affected over time by its enforced cohabitation with the rat.

A European team has studied around 300 islands in the western Mediterranean, and has confirmed that the presence of the black rat (Rattus rattus) has an effect on the number of marine birds there. Mass colonisation by rats is damaging to the native biota of islands, leading to a 68% risk of extinction for procellariiforme seabirds (tube-nosed birds with webbed feet of three to four toes).

Although rats have been introduced into the islands of the Mediterranean over the past 2,000 years, "there has not been any recorded extinction of any seabird species since they first arrived on the islands in this basin", Lise Ruffino, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Ecology and Paleoecology (IMEP) at the Paul Cιzanne University in France, tells SINC.

The study, which has been published recently in Biological Invasions, has evaluated more than 50% of the islands in the western Mediterranean. The scientists found that only 31% of the small Mediterranean islands or islets (of less than five hectares) were rat-free. In fact, 99% of islands measuring more than 30 hectares have been invaded by black rats, and living alongside them has had a serious impact on the survival of four procellariiforme species.

Of the four species studied, Cory's shearwater (Calonectris diomedea diomedea), the Mediterranean shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), and the European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis). "The only one that seems to have been seriously affected as a result of the presence of this invasive species throughout the entire region is the small European storm petrel", points out Ruffino.

The biologist says: "The presence and abundance of the other three shearwaters was more influenced by the features of the individual islands". Mediterranean islands are not very isolated in a geographical sense, meaning it has been easier for this lengthy cohabitation to arise because of their bio-geographical distribution.

Mariano Paracuellos, another of the authors of the study and a researcher at the Aquatic Ecology and Aquaculture Research Group at the University of Almeria, explains that bird reserves have been created, which have limited the birds' interaction with the rats, as have features on each island that act as barriers. "These have helped the birds to avoid direct cohabitation with the rats, and without them the birds could have been seriously affected".

The growing presence of invasive species around the globe is one of the greatest threats to the preservation of biodiversity worldwide. One of the most serious cases is that of the black rat, which has successfully made its home on 80% of the islands on the planet over the past few thousand years.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ruffino, L.; Bourgeois, K.; Vidal, E.; Duhem, C.; Paracuellos, M.; Escribano, F.; Sposimo, P.; Baccetti, N.; Pascal, M.; Oro, D. Invasive rats and seabirds after 2,000 years of an unwanted coexistence on Mediterranean islands. Biological Invasions, 2009; 11 (7): 1631 DOI: 10.1007/s10530-008-9394-z

Cite This Page:

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Black Rat Does Not Bother Mediterranean Seabirds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002093803.htm>.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. (2009, October 6). Black Rat Does Not Bother Mediterranean Seabirds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002093803.htm
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Black Rat Does Not Bother Mediterranean Seabirds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002093803.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

Raw: Small Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Icelandic authorities briefly raised the aviation warning code to red on Friday during a small eruption at the Holuhraun lava field in the Bardabunga volcano system. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) — In the midst of a historic drought, Los Angeles is increasing efforts to go after people who waste water. Five water conservation "cops" drive around the city every day educating homeowners about the drought. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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