Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Black rat does not bother Mediterranean seabirds

06.10.2009
Human activities have meant invasive species have been able to populate parts of the world to which they are not native and alter biodiversity there over thousands of years.

Now, an international team of scientists has studied the impact of the black rat on bird populations on Mediterranean islands. Despite the rat's environmental impact, only the tiny European storm petrel has been affected over time by its enforced cohabitation with the rat.

A European team has studied around 300 islands in the western Mediterranean, and has confirmed that the presence of the black rat (Rattus rattus) has an effect on the number of marine birds there. Mass colonisation by rats is damaging to the native biota of islands, leading to a 68% risk of extinction for procellariiforme seabirds (tube-nosed birds with webbed feet of three to four toes).

Although rats have been introduced into the islands of the Mediterranean over the past 2,000 years, "there has not been any recorded extinction of any seabird species since they first arrived on the islands in this basin", Lise Ruffino, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Ecology and Paleoecology (IMEP) at the Paul Cézanne University in France, tells SINC.

The study, which has been published recently in Biological Invasions, has evaluated more than 50% of the islands in the western Mediterranean. The scientists found that only 31% of the small Mediterranean islands or islets (of less than five hectares) were rat-free. In fact, 99% of islands measuring more than 30 hectares have been invaded by black rats, and living alongside them has had a serious impact on the survival of four procellariiforme species.

Of the four species studied, Cory's shearwater (Calonectris diomedea diomedea), the Mediterranean shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), and the European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis). "The only one that seems to have been seriously affected as a result of the presence of this invasive species throughout the entire region is the small European storm petrel", points out Ruffino.

The biologist says: "The presence and abundance of the other three shearwaters was more influenced by the features of the individual islands". Mediterranean islands are not very isolated in a geographical sense, meaning it has been easier for this lengthy cohabitation to arise because of their bio-geographical distribution.

Mariano Paracuellos, another of the authors of the study and a researcher at the Aquatic Ecology and Aquaculture Research Group at the University of Almeria, explains that bird reserves have been created, which have limited the birds' interaction with the rats, as have features on each island that act as barriers. "These have helped the birds to avoid direct cohabitation with the rats, and without them the birds could have been seriously affected".

The growing presence of invasive species around the globe is one of the greatest threats to the preservation of biodiversity worldwide. One of the most serious cases is that of the black rat, which has successfully made its home on 80% of the islands on the planet over the past few thousand years.

References:

Ruffino, L.; Bourgeois, K.; Vidal, E.; Duhem, C.; Paracuellos, M.; Escribano, F.; Sposimo, P.; Baccetti, N.; Pascal, M.; Oro, D. "Invasive rats and seabirds after 2,000 years of an unwanted coexistence on Mediterranean islands" Biological Invasions 11(7): 1631-1651 agosto de 2009.

SINC | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>