Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Gough’s killer mice attack a second ACAP-listed species UPDATED

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It is now well known that the introduced House Mice Mus musculus on Gough Island in the South Atlantic kill large numbers of Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena chicks every year, directly leading to the species’ recent re-designation as Critically Endangered (http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3967&m=0

 

The latest news from Gough is of a Sooty Albatross Phoebastria fusca chick killed on its nest by mice, as reported by field personnel of the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) this summer, who are currently based on the island.

 

Although this may well be an isolated event, it remains significant, because up to now all the attacks on Gough’s albatrosses have occurred during the winter months, when the mouse’s usual diet of fruits, seeds and invertebrates are in short supply.  Predation directed at Sooty Albatrosses, which rear their chicks in summer, may mean that the summer-breeding Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos and Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus (both ACAP-listed species) are now also at risk.

 

Research being conducted at Gough by the RSPB  on both mice and albatrosses is directed at gathering the necessary information to design an eradication programme for the island’s unwelcome aliens.

 For background reading on the effects of rodents and plans to eradicate them in the Tristan da Cunha Islands, of which Gough is a part, go to http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/projects/tristandacunha/index.asp.

Research on ACAP-listed species and mice on Gough is conducted in conjunction with South Africa’s University of Cape Town and with the financial support of ACAP, Birds Australia and the UK’s Overseas Territories Environment Programme.

Posted by John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, with news from Richard Cuthbert, Henk Louw and Paul Visser, 14 January 2009, updated 2 February 2009