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Biol Lett. 2007 Jun 22;3(3):241-4.

Can predation by invasive mice drive seabird extinctions?

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DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa.


The house mouse, Mus musculus, is one of the most widespread and well-studied invasive mammals on islands. It was thought to pose little risk to seabirds, but video evidence from Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean shows house mice killing chicks of two IUCN-listed seabird species. Mouse-induced mortality in 2004 was a significant cause of extremely poor breeding success for Tristan albatrosses, Diomedea dabbenena (0.27 fledglings/pair), and Atlantic petrels, Pterodroma incerta (0.33). Population models show that these levels of predation are sufficient to cause population decreases. Unlike many other islands, mice are the only introduced mammals on Gough Island. However, restoration programmes to eradicate rats and other introduced mammals from islands are increasing the number of islands where mice are the sole alien mammals. If these mouse populations are released from the ecological effects of predators and competitors, they too may become predatory on seabird chicks.

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