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 The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>