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Together, rodents and cats wiped out 92 bird species, study finds

By on May 18, 2022 0

These cats are invasive predators introduced as pets or to control rodents, says a study on the state of avian species on earth

These cats are invasive predators introduced as pets or to control rodents, says a study on the state of avian species on earth

Disruptive humans have played a major role in eliminating at least 187 species of birds since 1500. Two natural enemies – rodents and cats – have been nearly as deadly.

According to the State of the World’s Birds, a global study of the status of avian species, introduced mammals or invasive predators are the primary driver of localized bird species extinctions. While rodents have been linked to the extinction of 52 bird species, cats have accounted for 40.

“At least 187 avian extinctions have been confirmed or suspected since 1500 [baseline year for the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature]90% of which belong to island endemic species concentrated on the Hawaiian Islands, mainland Australia and the islands, the Mascarene Islands, New Zealand and French Polynesia,” the study states in the section on patterns and trends. extinctions.

The birds that disappeared from these islands belonged to 109 taxa or taxonomic groups, most of them (33) in the Hawaiian Islands.

“Cats were introduced to control rodents and have also reached these islands with humans as pets, companions or stowaways,” said Ashwin Vishwanathan of the India-based Nature Conservation Foundation. The Hindu.

He is one of nine authors of the study led by Manchester Metropolitan University and published on May 5.

“Over the past 600 years, the rate of extinctions peaked in the late 19th century, declining slightly in the early and mid-20th century, before increasing again in the late 20th century,” says the study.

“This change reflects an interruption in island extinctions and an increase in extinctions of species distributed across the continent in highly fragmented tropical regions,” he says, citing the example of northeast Brazil where two species – the hunter d cryptic trees (Cichlocolaptes mazarbarnetti) and Leaf-gleaning Alagoas ( Philydor Novaesi) – disappeared recently.

The cryptic treehunter was described as a new species from historical museum specimens after its extinction. From the same region of Brazil, the Pernambuco pygmy owl ( Glaucidium mooreorum) is strongly suspected to be extinct while undocumented sightings of the purple-winged ground dove ( Paraclaravis Geoffroyi) raised hopes for its sustainability.

But emergency conservation interventions may be too late for species such as Stresemann’s silkfront ( Merulaxis stresemanni) with single and cherry-throated tanager ( Nemosia rourei) with 11 known extant individuals, according to the study.

Determining recent extinctions can be problematic given the difficulty of detecting the death of the last remaining individual, especially in remote and poorly studied locations where many potentially extinct species may occur, the study warns.

“Incorrectly classifying a species as extinct risks the so-called Romeo fallacy of premature cessation of conservation action and can also lead to loss of scientific credibility in subsequent ‘rediscovery’ of presumed extinct species”, indicates the report.

The study says 144 birds have been “rediscovered” over a 122-year period since 1889, 86% of which are threatened with extinction. Examples of “rediscovered” Red List birds are the Cebu woodpecker ( Quadricolor dicaeum) and the New Zealand storm petrel ( Fregetta maoriana).

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