Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

First evidence of mouse attacks on adult albatrosses and petrels breeding on sub-Antarctic Marion and Gough Islands.

Abstract

Invasive house mice Mus musculus are significant predators of seabird chicks on islands where they are the only introduced mammal, but there are very few records of attacks on adult birds. We report the first evidence of mouse attacks on adult albatrosses and petrels breeding on Marion and Gough Islands, where there has been a recent increase in attacks on seabird chicks. In September 2017, wounds consistent with a mouse attack were recorded on an incubating adult male Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli on Marion Island. The nest was deserted, and breeding success within 500 m was 18% (n=11) compared to 68% at nests > 500 m away (n=123), suggesting that other incubating adults in the immediate vicinity also might have been affected. In March 2018, an incubating Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenena was found on Gough Island with a typical mouse wound on its rump. The egg hatched and the same bird was later seen brooding and feeding the chick. In October 2018, an incubating Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche chlororhynchos was found on Gough Island with a wound on its back suggestive of a mouse attack and 23 freshly dead carcasses of this species were found, next to empty nests, in nearby colonies. These observations add to mounting evidence of the impacts of mice on seabirds, and further support calls to eradicate mice from Marion and Gough Islands.