(ORDO NEWS) — The house mouse is one of the most dangerous invasive species, and, as scientists have found, it poses a particularly great threat to long-lived species with slow reproduction rates.
Such conclusions were made after studying the population of the rarest species of albatrosses, which may become extinct in the near future due to a small rodent ruining its nests.
The Tristan albatross ( Diomedea dabbenena ) is found only in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, and the number of these majestic birds has been steadily declining over the past 40 years, mainly due to human activities and nest devastation by invasive species , such as pigs and mice.
Albatrosses are long-lived among birds, retaining the ability to reproduce even at the age of 65 years. For this, they “pay” with slow reproduction rates associated with the late onset of puberty, a small number of chicks, and the fact that not every year a reproductive couple decides to have offspring.
Now it turned out that the threat to the survival of albatrosses, one of the largest birds on Earth, is posed by one of the smallest mammals – house mice ( Mus musculus ), brought to the islands by man. Although these animals rarely attack adult birds, they pose a serious threat to helpless chicks sitting in ground nests.
After reviewing data collected from 2004 to the present, scientists have found that nearly half of Tristan’s albatross chicks do not reach maturity due to mouse attacks, meaning the loss of approximately 2,000 individuals.
Thus, although the number of breeding pairs remains stable, population growth does not occur, and the species remains small.
Scientists suggest that the only way out in this situation is the complete destruction of mice on the islands where albatrosses breed. In this case, the birds will be able to safely leave the chicks while foraging in the open ocean, and in 30 years this will lead to an increase in their number by two to eight times.
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