A recent paper in Science Advances (see reference at the end) describes the global distribution of highly threatened terrestrial vertebrates and invasive species on islands. Global biodiversity loss is extremely rapid on islands, especially where invasive species are the drivers of extinctions. It stresses the fact that if we are planning to prevent or minimise these extinctions, we need appropriate conservation planning. Biosecurity is an important management tool in preventing invasions, but eradication of these species is needed to reduce further biodiversity loss.
South Africa’s only sub-Antarctic island, Marion Island, has unfortunately not been spared from invasive species. Various different invasive plants and insects have been identified, but none with such devastating and visibly negative effects as the common house mouse, Mus musculus. These little animals are creating havoc all over the island, from damaging and killing Azorella plants to eating albatross chicks alive. There are plans for a future eradication programme on the table, lets just hope it happens soon enough…before too much damage has been done to the island and its inhabitants.
One of the authors of the mentioned paper, Dena Spatz, stated the following:
“The opportunities to prevent extinctions are now laid out right in front of us. This knowledge base of threatened island biodiversity can really empower more efficient and better-informed conservation planning efforts, which is exactly what our planet needs right now.”
Spatz et al. (2017) Globally threatened vertebrates on islands with invasive species. Science Advances 3(10):e1603080. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1603080