Thursday, 24 May 2012

Giant Mice Kill Rare Sea Bird

(ENDANGERED SPECIES) The extremely remote Gough Island, the world’s only known breeding ground for the endangered Atlantic petrel, is under attack by giant mice. Since being introduced to the island 150 years ago, the mice have grown immensely, both physically and in population size, due to the overwhelming amount of petrel chicks they consume. Each year 1.25 of the 1.6 million endangered chicks are eaten by mice. Read on for more information about the mice massacres on Gough Island. — Global Animal  

The massacre is taking place on Gough Island (map), a British territory almost smack-dab in between the tips of South America and South Africa. The only humans living on the island belong to a small team running a weather station.
Gough Island has long been recognized as an important seabird colony, since it hosts roughly ten million birds of more than 20 species. The island is also thought to be the only breeding ground for the Atlantic petrel—2 million breeding pairs produce 1.6 million chicks a year.
The new study, though, reveals that the petrel chicks are in constant danger from house mice, which have grown to supersize proportions since being introduced to the island 150 years ago.
“The sheer densities of the numbers of birds there—that’s why Gough Island is so special,” said study co-author Ross Wanless, of the University of Cape Town.
“But the mice seem to be chewing away through those”—causing the researchers to fear that the mice could eventually wipe out the Atlantic petrel.
Aside from Gough Island, a second breeding population of Atlantic petrels used to exist on Tristan da Cunha, another island in the South Atlantic. But scientists think that group has vanished in recent years due to predation by black rats.

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