Effects of mouse predation on burrowing petrel chicks at Gough Island

Ben J. Dilley, Delia Davies, Alexander L. Bond, Peter G. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Since 2004 there has been mounting evidence of the severe impact of introduced house mice (Mus musculus L.) killing chicks of burrow-nesting petrels at Gough Island. We monitored seven species of burrow-nesting petrels in 2014 using a combination of infra-red video cameras augmented by burrowscope nest inspections. All seven camera-monitored Atlantic petrel (Pterodroma incerta Schlegel) chicks were killed by mice within hours of hatching (average 7.2±4.0 hours) with an 87% chick failure rate (n=83 hatchlings). Several grey petrel (Procellaria cinerea Gmelin) chicks were found with mouse wounds and 60% of chicks failed (n=35 hatchlings). Video surveillance revealed one (of seven nests filmed) fatal attack on a great shearwater (Puffinus gravis O’Reilly) chick and two (of nine) on soft-plumaged petrel (Pterodroma mollis Gould) chicks. Mice killed the chicks of the recently discovered summer-breeding MacGillivray’s prion (Pachyptila macgillivrayi Mathews), with a chick mortality rate of 82% in 2013/14 and 100% in 2014/15. The closely-related broad-billed prion (P. vittata Forster) breeds in late winter and also had a chick mortality rate of 100% in 2014. The results provide further evidence of the dire situation for seabirds nesting on Gough Island and the urgent need for mouse eradication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-553
JournalAntarctic Science
Volume27
Issue number06
Early online date30 Jun 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

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