Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

The "killer mice" strike again: Tristan Albatrosses on Gough have yet another very poor breeding year

Yet once more the Critically Endangered Tristan Albatrosses Diomedea dabbenena of Gough Island are having a very poor breeding year.

Of an estimated 1826 incubating birds in early February 2010 only 406 chicks could be counted this and last month, representing a breeding success (if all these surviving chicks fledge come year-end) of 22.2%.  This figure compares with those of 27.2% last year and 13.9% in 2008 (click here).

The 2008 breeding success was the worst ever out of seven seasons recorded since 2001.  But breeding success in all the years of study has been far below what is considered normal (of the order of 70-75%) for a great albatross of the genus Diomedea.  As a consequence production remains far below that required to stop the population heading to inevitable extinction.

It is certain the continued poor breeding success is due to depredation by Gough's "killer mice" (the House Mouse Mus musculus).  All the more important then that planning has now commenced for their eradication (click here).

Click here for the RSPB's feasibility study for the eradication of Gough's mice.

Research on albatrosses (and mice) on Gough Island is supported by the UK's Overseas Territories Environment Programme and the South African National Antarctic Programme and is administered jointly by the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer and Richard Cuthbert, Graham Parker, Kalinka Rexer-Huber and Erica Sommer, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, 13 October 2010