The Sounds of Recovery

Native seabirds continue to reclaim their island home on Rat Island, Alaska since the removal of invasive rats in 2008. Listen in…

One of the neatest features about an island recovering from the impacts of invasive species is that you can hear it.

For over 200 years, Rat Island, Alaska sat conspicuously quiet. Invasive rats present on the island virtually destroyed seabird populations through direct predation. Now, just three years since the removal of invasive rats, the island continues to show evidence of recovery.

In June-August 2011, biologists recorded Leach’s Storm-petrels calling on Rat Island, Alaska.

 

These calls, including aerial calls and ground calling, are part of mate attraction and pairing behavior. The calls were recorded by Autonomous Recording Units (an IC Conservation Measures Program tool for monitoring species recovery) deployed on Rat Island by our project partners at USFWS.

Leach’s Storm-petrels are tiny, nocturnal seabirds weighing less than 50 g. They are very conspicuous when calling from the ground and likely have a strong musty petrel smell—all putting these birds at a very high risk of predation from rats. The presence of these birds and their behavior is strong evidence that the island is quickly recovering following 2008 removal of invasive rats from the island.

We’ll continue to update you on the recovery of Rat Island!

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