The planet is in a severe biodiversity crisis. Many plants and animals species that share the world with us are at risk of disappearing. Oceanic islands are especially at risk as they host many unique species particularly threatened by introduced alien animals. In Mauritius, we recently found that invasive alien black rats (Rattus rattus), are destroying most flowers of a rapidly declining endemic plant, (Roussea simplex), which is now highly threatened with extinction with its world population of just 250 individuals and falling. Mauritius already has the world’s symbol of extinction, the Dodo, which fell to invasive predators. Our previous work indicates that invasive rats play a major role in the arrested regeneration of Roussea (no natural regeneration observed). This destruction of flowers and fruits by rats also harms other biodiversity like threatened birds and endemic day geckos by depriving them of feeding resources such as precious nectar and fruit pulp. The plant connects these animals in a food chain, which is being disrupted by invasive rats. Therefore rat removal would benefit the entire food chain of endemic biodiversity that relies on Roussea.
Together we can help prevent this plant from joining the Dodo-club of extinct species and make its resources available to these threatened birds and reptiles. We aim to test if rat control (using humane methods) can help restore the endemic food chain. Our work will be carried out in Mauritius, at the last strongholds of Roussea, (Le Pouce Mountain and Piton Savanne), from August 2019 to January 2020. We need GoodNature A24 rat traps to control rats around plants and monitor how this affects production of flower buds, flowers, fruits and flower visitors (using Bushnell camera traps).
Roussea simplex is an outstanding model to study the threats to biodiversity that many other oceanic island are currently facing (e.g. up to 6,800 plant species are at high risk of extinction). Rats are well known to have direct negative impacts on birds, reptiles and other animals, but their impacts on plants is much less known. This study represents an opportunity to quantify this aspect and therefore contribute to inform impactful management measures to conserve not only Roussea simplex but also its ecological interactions with endemic birds and reptiles.
Who we are and how will the funding be used?
The team is comprised of myself, Prishnee Bissessur, PhD candidate at the University of Mauritius (UoM), Associate Professor F. B. Vincent Florens (main advisor from UoM), in collaboration with Dr Ana M. Martín González and Associate Professor Bo Dalsgaard from the Centre for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Your funding will enable us to obtain the following equipment (including item costs, taxes and freight):
- Goodnature A24 rat traps (20 kits) - $ 3,000
- Bushnell Trophy Cam Trail Camera (14 units) - $ 3,000
- Lithium batteries - $ 500
Acknowledging your contribution
This is a joint effort and no contribution is too small. All funds raised will be used for securing equipment, which will continue to be used to help save endangered species and build capacity at the host university in Mauritius. You will be kept updated on this page and through social media on the progress in setting up the experiment and the data collected.
Donors and supporters who desire will be acknowledged in our updates on online platforms and resulting publications or presentations of this work.