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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Treehugger Tuesday

From "Island Conservation":

Albatross-eating Mice Responsible for Two Million Fewer Seabird Chicks on UK Island Each Year
19 October 2018
New study finds Albatross-eating Mice present on Gough Island in the South Atlantic are causing 2 Million fewer seabird eggs and chicks every year.

- Introduced house mice on the UK Overseas Territory of Gough Island in the South Atlantic are killing seabirds at greater levels than feared resulting in at least two million fewer seabird chicks each year
- Without action, the Tristan albatross is likely to be one of the next UK birds to go globally extinct
- Plans are underway to save this and other species. The RSPB confirms plan to eradicate the mice in 2020, in one of the most ambitious projects of its kind ever attempted.

New research shows that mice are eating seabird chicks at an alarming rate, resulting in two million fewer seabird eggs and chicks on a single UK island each year and putting some seabird species at the risk of extinction.

The study, supported by the RSPB, found that the number of chicks and eggs surviving on Gough is much lower than it would be if mice were absent. This environmental catastrophe threatens albatrosses and petrels with extinction.

Mice were accidentally introduced by sailors to the remote Gough Island during the 19th century. Now, over 100 years later mice have colonised the entire island, and evolved to be 50% larger than the average house mouse. They have learned to eat the eggs and chicks of the island’s once abundant birds.


A Tristan Albatross chick. Credit: J Cleeland

The island, a World Heritage Site in the South Atlantic is considered one of the most important seabird colonies in the world, hosting more than ten million birds. There are 24 species of bird that nest on the island, 22 of which are seabirds.

Gough Island hosts 99 per cent of the world’s Critically Endangered Tristan albatross and Atlantic petrel populations – two species especially vulnerable to mouse predation because their chicks are left alone in winter. Just 2,000 Tristan albatross pairs now remain.

Read the full article here

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