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   Mus musculus (mammal)
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    Details of this species in Gough Is. (sub-Antarctic)
    Status: Alien
    Invasiveness: Invasive
    Occurrence: Established
    Source: RSPB, undated; Wanless et al. 2007
    Arrival Date: pre-1885
    Introduction: Unintentional (accidentally)
    Species Notes for this Location:
    House mice (Mus musculus) were presumably introduced to Gough on sealing or whaling boats before 1885. Mice attacks on albatrosses have been caught on video tape and appear to be a learned behaviour. Researchers set out to determine the cause of unprecedented low breeding success (less than 30%) of Tristan albatrosses and Atlantic petrels. The island has lacked mammalian predators for millions of years and albatrosses have no defensive responses against such aggressive behaviour. All areas have mouse attacks, but the rate varies between sites and years in a complex way. With no corresponding variables to explain the pattern, researchers believe that cultural transmission of the behaviour could explain the patterns.

    Albatross chicks spend eight months sitting waiting for food from their parents. They are nearly a metre tall and 250 times the weight of the mice but are largely immobile and cannot defend themselves. The mice gnaw into the birds' flesh as they sit on the ground. Researchers have seen as many as eight or 10 rodents feasting on a single ailing chick. The chicks lack appropriate responses and the mice feed at will from established wounds over several days (Wanless et al. 2007).

    Management Notes for this Location:
    Activities on Gough are governed by a Management Plan (Cooper & Ryan 1994). Research, conservation action and logistical activities that fall outside the ambit of the Management Plan are subject to approval from the Tristan Administrator, who takes advice from the Tristan Biodiversity Advisory Group, comprised of researchers familiar with Gough and Tristan environments.
    Location Notes:
    Gough Island in the South Atlantic is one of the most important seabird islands in the world. Twenty seabird species breed here, of which five are globally threatened and two are near-endemics. There are also two globally threatened endemic land birds. Gough is part of the UK Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha, and the UK therefore has a responsibility to help conserve this World Heritage Site. Gough is some 14 km long and 7 km wide and is the most southerly of the Tristan da Cunha group. Up to 10 million birds breed there, mostly in summer although four species breed in the winter. A review by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) has found the mouse is one of 2,900 non-native species damaging native wildlife on the 17 UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies (RSPB, undated; Amos, 2005).
    Last Modified: 18/04/2007 2:49:21 p.m.


ISSG Landcare Research NBII IUCN University of Auckland