Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Helping restore an island: chances of eradicating mice from Steeple Jason, home of the Black-browed Albatross

Kalinka Rexer-Huber (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, UK) and colleagues write in the journal Polar Biology on the chances of ridding Steeple Jason Island in the South Atlantic of its introduced House Mice Mus musculus.  Steeple Jason supports the World’s largest colony of Black-browed Albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Invasive house mice Mus musculus are known to impact on seabird, invertebrate and plant communities on temperate and subantarctic islands, particularly where they are the sole rodent species. Steeple Jason, in the Falkland Islands, is an island which supports globally important seabird populations as well as introduced mice.  To evaluate the prospects for mouse eradication, we investigated mouse ecology and undertook bait uptake trials on Steeple Jason in late winter.  Mice were present in all habitats but were most abundant in tussac Poa flabellata where they occurred at 20–35 mice ha−1.  From 58 mature perforate females, 16 % were pregnant, with litters of 4–8 pups.  The first lactating female was caught at the end of August, suggesting that breeding had recently begun.  Bait trials replicating an aerial eradication were undertaken on two trapping grids of 7.7 and 6.8 ha, with non-toxic pellets containing the biomarker pyranine spread at 7.5–7.7 kg ha−1.  All 447 mice captured after baiting had consumed bait.  The relatively low winter density, distribution and biology of house mice on Steeple Jason are similar to those observed before other successful mice eradications, and the study indicated 100 % bait acceptance.  Before an eradication attempt, we suggest investigating whether breeding ceases completely earlier in the winter and urge careful consideration of non-target species.”

The Black-browed Albatross colony on Steeple Jason, photographed by Ian Strange

Click here to read the ACAP Breeding Site account for Steeple Jason.

Reference:

Rexer-Huber, K., Parker, G.C., Reeves, M., Stanworth, A.J. & Cuthbert, R.J. 2013.  Winter ecology of house mice and the prospects for their eradication from Steeple Jason (Falkland Islands).  Polar Biology  DOI 10.1007/s00300-013-1398-1.

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 5 September 2013

A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.