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Rare Island Birds Threatened by 'Super Mice'
Reuters ^ | July 27, 2005 | Ed Stoddard

Posted on 08/08/2005 4:32:18 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

JOHANNESBURG — "Monster mice" are eating metre-high albatross chicks alive, threatening rare bird species on a remote south Atlantic island seen as the world's most important seabird colony.

Conservation groups say the avian massacre is occurring on Gough Island in the South Atlantic, a British territory about 1,600 kms (1,000 miles) southwest of Cape Town and home to more than 10 million birds.

"Gough Island hosts an astonishing community of seabirds and this catastrophe could make many extinct within decades," said Dr Geoff Hilton, a senior research biologist with Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

"We think there are about 700,000 mice, which have somehow learnt to eat chicks alive," he said in a statement.

The island is home to 99 percent of the world's Tristan albatross and Atlantic petrel populations -- the birds most often attacked. Just 2,000 Tristan albatross pairs remain.

"The albatross chicks weigh up to 10 kg (22 lb) and ... the mice weigh just 35 grams; it is like a tabby cat attacking a hippopotamus," Hilton said.

The house mice -- believed to have made their way to Gough decades ago on sealing and whaling ships -- have evolved to about three times their normal size.

This is a common phenomenon on island habitats -- for reasons much debated among scientists -- where small animal species often grow larger while big species such as elephants display "dwarfism" and become smaller.

In the case of the mice of Gough Island, their remarkable growth seems to have been given a boost by a vast reservoir of fresh meat and protein.

AGONISING DEATH

The rapacious rodents gnaw into the bodies of the defenceless and flightless chicks, leaving a gaping wound that leads to an agonising death. Scientists say once one mouse attacks the blood seems to draw others to the feast.

While predation by oversized mice is unusual, birds on small islands are especially vulnerable to extinction from human activities such as the introduction of alien species.

This is because many birds that have evolved on isolated islands with no predators have become what biologists term "ecologically naive" -- meaning they do not recognise danger from other animals.

Flightless species -- or chicks that cannot yet fly -- are especially at risk. The predatory nature of the mice was confirmed by researchers from the RSPB and the University of Cape Town. The ground-nesting Gough bunting, a small finch found nowhere else in the world, is also at risk.

Gough Island is the most southerly of the Tristan da Cunha group. There are 22 bird species nesting on the island of which 20 are seabirds.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: birds; environment; extinction; habitat; invasivespecies; weirdstuff
This is a really weird story with a lot of different aspects on which one might comment. I will chose "ecologically naive" which may actually describe Europe after 50 years of peace. It is almost like a very large number of the people here live on an island and cannot recognize danger when confronted with it.
1 posted on 08/08/2005 4:32:20 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

I always find it interesting that the biggest proponents of evolution are always the ones that complain the most bitterly as it takes its course.


2 posted on 08/08/2005 4:38:22 AM PDT by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Somehow, this all has to be Bush's fault.

/sarc

3 posted on 08/08/2005 4:39:16 AM PDT by Abathar (Proudly catching hell for posting without reading since 2004)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

"No comment."

4 posted on 08/08/2005 4:45:03 AM PDT by JRios1968 (Will work for a tagline.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

5 posted on 08/08/2005 4:46:37 AM PDT by Shazbot29 (Light a man a fire, he'll be warm for a day; light him on fire, he'll be warm the rest of his life)
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To: Rodney King
I always find it interesting that the biggest proponents of evolution are always the ones that complain the most bitterly as it takes its course.

Yes - I noticed the "evolved" statement too. Of course, the kids of many Asian families that immigrated to the U.S. "evolved" into bigger than norm in the first generation due to abundant food and quality medical care.

6 posted on 08/08/2005 4:49:28 AM PDT by trebb ("I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me..." - Jesus in John 14:6 (RSV))
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To: Rodney King
That is a fairly astute point and actually brings up a very strange contrast.

Advocates of evolution tend to be less reliant on "God" as the divine being who makes things happen. He did not put us here, nor did He make us custodians of the planet.

From their perspective humans are part of nature and there is nothing more to it.

Logic would entail that, aside from those necessary for our own self-preservation and improvement, humans have no stake in other species survival. In fact, as part of nature, the evolution of a species whose capacities and habits lead to the extinction of others is a bit part of macro-evolution.

Now, proponents of creationism would naturally believe that God made humans custodians of the planet. He created all the creatures and gave us responsibility for them.

Wouldn't logic dictate that people who espouse this belief should be the ones most upset when human action leads to extinction?

Strangely it appears to be the other way around. Why do you think that is?
7 posted on 08/08/2005 4:54:52 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (You are free to do as you are told.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

Swift Grazers!


8 posted on 08/08/2005 4:56:17 AM PDT by NonValueAdded ("Freedom of speech makes it much easier to spot the idiots." [Jay Lessig, 2/7/2005])
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To: trebb

Umm, how is that not evolution?

If humans continue to receive unlimited supplies of nutrients, expecially calcium and fats, they continue to get larger. That is direct Darwinian adaptation.

It is no wonder that the first people to truly domesticate cows on a large scale are also the world's tallest. Or have you never been to the Netherlands or Scandinavia?


9 posted on 08/08/2005 4:59:44 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (You are free to do as you are told.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Wouldn't logic dictate that people who espouse this belief should be the ones most upset when human action leads to extinction? Strangely it appears to be the other way around. Why do you think that is?

I'm not sure, but I think the reason is that human beings have in innate craving for God, and those that deny the one true God are often drawn to another form of worhsip. Most who deny the one true God do so because their own pride and faith in themselves keeps them from having faith in something that they cannot physically touch, see, and hear. The result is that they wind up worshipping the greatest thing tangible thing of beauty in the world, which is the earth itself. Thus they have substituted mother nature for God, and made the "environment" their religion.

10 posted on 08/08/2005 5:12:22 AM PDT by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Rodney King
Thus they have substituted mother nature for God, and made the "environment" their religion.

I am all for montheism, but it does not seem like you are aware of the fact that humans, for most of our history, did worship the "environment". There are an awful lot of humans who still do so in an organized fashion. Only Western religions are as you describe.

Also, it seems to me that you failed to answer the question about why those who do worship God seem so careless about His creation sometimes.

11 posted on 08/08/2005 5:20:04 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (You are free to do as you are told.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
I am all for montheism, but it does not seem like you are aware of the fact that humans, for most of our history, did worship the "environment". There are an awful lot of humans who still do so in an organized fashion. Only Western religions are as you describe.

Oh, I am aware of that, I think it butresses my point that in the absense of God, people go for the most tangible thing of beauty - mother nature.

Also, it seems to me that you failed to answer the question about why those who do worship God seem so careless about His creation sometimes.

That I can't help you with - I don't know.

12 posted on 08/08/2005 5:23:15 AM PDT by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Rodney King

On the other hand, one could make the case that those who cannot find a "raison d’être" in the physical world must look for it externally, by finding or creating religion.


13 posted on 08/08/2005 5:24:46 AM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: Rodney King

Fair enough


14 posted on 08/08/2005 5:29:52 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (You are free to do as you are told.)
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To: Gondring

Yes, that is true.


15 posted on 08/08/2005 5:30:01 AM PDT by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
The rapacious rodents gnaw into the bodies of the defenceless and flightless chicks, leaving a gaping wound that leads to an agonising death. Scientists say once one mouse attacks the blood seems to draw others to the feast.

Land piranha.

Would some cats help the situation out?

16 posted on 08/08/2005 5:31:46 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (No wonder the Southern Baptist Church threw Greer out: Only one god per church! [Ann Coulter])
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
All in a Mouse's Night

...There I was with my back to the wall,
Then comes this monster mouse, he's ten feet tall,
With teeth and claws to match.
It only took one blow.

17 posted on 08/08/2005 5:43:48 AM PDT by BufordP ("I wish we lived in the day when you could challenge a person to a duel!"--Zell Miller)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
This is because many birds that have evolved on isolated islands with no predators have become what biologists term "ecologically naive" -- meaning they do not recognise danger from other animals.

Darwin at work.

18 posted on 08/08/2005 5:53:35 AM PDT by wbill
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


19 posted on 08/08/2005 5:55:25 AM PDT by Fury
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To: Gondring; Rodney King
those who cannot find a "raison d’être"

You completely deligitimize yourself at FR whenever you use French. May I suggest the German equivalent "Existenzberechtigung".

It is longer but not nearly as weenie sounding.

20 posted on 08/08/2005 5:57:32 AM PDT by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (You are free to do as you are told.)
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To: wbill

"This is because many birds that have evolved on isolated islands with no predators have become what biologists term "ecologically naive" -- meaning they do not recognise danger from other animals. "

liberals display this same phenomenon with respect to criminals and muslims.


21 posted on 08/08/2005 5:59:21 AM PDT by BadAndy (Specializing in unnecessarily harsh comments.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
It is longer but not nearly as weenie sounding.

LOL.

22 posted on 08/08/2005 6:01:05 AM PDT by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
raison d’être

Oh I don't know - you have to have respect for some who knows how to type an "ê" :0)

23 posted on 08/08/2005 6:14:03 AM PDT by agere_contra
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
I will chose "ecologically naive" which may actually describe Europe after 50 years of peace.

BTW I think this is very perceptive.

24 posted on 08/08/2005 6:15:29 AM PDT by agere_contra
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To: BadAndy

LOL! "You know, maybe if we just REASON with the terrorists...they might come around to our way of thinking. I think that we need to explore just *why* they want to blow us up. It's probably George Bush's fault."


25 posted on 08/08/2005 6:25:32 AM PDT by wbill
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To: HiTech RedNeck

No..cats would go for the easier prey..the birds..


26 posted on 08/08/2005 6:26:01 AM PDT by ken5050 (Ann Coulter needs to have children ASAP to pass on her gene pool....any volunteers?)
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To: agere_contra
Oh I don't know - you have to have respect for some who knows how to type an "ê" :0)

Yeah, if there were an umlaut in "Existenzberechtigung," mebbe I woulda used it!

27 posted on 08/08/2005 11:08:29 AM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

But does it have the same meaning?


28 posted on 08/08/2005 11:19:29 AM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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