Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Two more albatross species reported attacked by the “killer” mice of Gough Island

Richard Cuthbert (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and colleagues have published in the journal Antarctic Science of yet more harm being caused by predatory House Mice Mus musculus on Gough Island – this time reporting attacks on a further two albatross species, in addition to those reported in ACAP Latest News on chicks of Tristan Albatrosses Diomedea dabbenena every winter.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Introduced house mice Mus musculus L. have been discovered to be major predators of chicks of the Tristan albatross Diomedea dabbenena L. and Atlantic petrel Pterodroma incerta Schlegel and to also predate great shearwater Puffinus gravis O’Reilly chicks at Gough Island, and similar predatory behaviour has been reported for house mice on Marion Island.  Observations on Gough Island over three breeding seasons of nesting Atlantic yellow-nosed albatrosses Thalassarche chlororhynchos Gmelin and darkmantled sooty albatross Phoebetria fusca Hilsenberg indicate that house mice are also preying on these two species: the first records of mice preying upon summer-breeding albatross species on Gough Island.  Predation on these two albatross species appears to be relatively rare (~2% for the Atlantic yellow-nosed albatrosses) and ongoing monitoring is required to ascertain if the impact of mice is increasing.  Conservation actions to eradicate mice from Gough Island will be of benefit to these species and other species that are being impacted by this invasive species.”

A Sooty Albatross family on Gough Island.  Photograph by Kalinka Rexer-Huber 

Click here to read of Gough’s mice preying upon the island’s burrowing petrels.

With thanks to Richard Cuthbert for information.

Reference:

Cuthbert, R.J., Louw, H., G. Parker, G., Rexer-Huber, K. & Visser, P. 2013.  Observations of mice predation on dark-mantled sooty albatross and Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross chicks at Gough Island.  Antarctic Science  doi:10.1017/S0954102013000126.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 31 May 2013