Impact of introduced house mice (Mus musculus) on burrowing seabirds on Steeple Jason and Grand Jason Islands, Falklands, South Atlantic

Mark Bolton*, Andrew Stanbury, Alastair M M Baylis, Richard Cuthbert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Whilst there is good evidence for negative impacts of introduced rat species on island ecosystems, the effects of house mice (Mus musculus) are generally less well documented. In some situations, introduced house mice can exert severe impacts, particularly where this is the only introduced mammal. Here, we examine the distribution, relative abundance and breeding success of small burrowing seabirds on Steeple Jason Island, Falklands, in relation to habitat types and the distribution of house mice which is the sole introduced mammal species, and we make comparisons with seabird distribution and densities on the neighbouring island of Grand Jason where mice are absent. Grey-backed storm-petrel (Garrodia nereis) and Wilson’s storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), which due to their extremely small size are likely to be the most vulnerable to mouse predation, were considerably more abundant on mouse-free Grand Jason than on Steeple Jason. Grey-backed storm-petrel, which are typically associated with tussac grass, avoided this habitat on Steeple Jason where it is associated with high levels of house mouse activity (assessed from the proportion of wax baits gnawed overnight), whereas on mouse-free Grand Jason, there was no such avoidance. Wilson’s storm-petrel nesting on Steeple Jason suffered high rates of egg and chick loss. Whilst we found evidence for detrimental impacts of house mice on the two small storm-petrel species, there was no relationship between relative mouse activity levels and the distribution or abundance of the larger thin-billed Prion (Pachyptila belcheri).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1659-1668
Number of pages10
JournalPolar Biology
Volume37
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Eradication
  • Non-native mammalian predator
  • Rodent
  • Storm-petrel

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