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Home* News and Stories → Intro­du­ced mice spread into the wild

Intro­du­ced mice spread into the wild

The­re are, by default, no rodends in Spits­ber­gen. But things chan­ged when the sett­le­ments were estab­lis­hed in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. A vole ori­gi­nal­ly from eas­tern Euro­pe (micro­tus levis) came up most likely with ani­mal feed. The vole is well estab­lis­hed in the vicini­ty of Grum­ant­by­en alt­hough the pla­ces was aban­do­ned in 1962.

Von Natur aus gibt es in Spitz­ber­gen kei­ne Nage­tie­re. Die Ost­eu­ro­päi­sche Feld­maus (Micro­tus levis) ist im 20. Jahr­hun­dert mit dem Men­schen ein­ge­reist, wahr­schein­lich mit Tier­fut­ter. Gehal­ten hat sich sich in einem Gebiet mit ver­gleichs­wei­se üppi­ger Vege­ta­ti­on, näm­lich unter den Vogel­fel­sen öst­lich der 1962 auf­ge­ge­be­nen rus­si­schen Sied­lung Grum­ant­by­en, zwi­schen Lon­gye­ar­by­en und Bar­ents­burg. Traces of various sorts are fre­quent­ly found in lar­ge area stret­ching from Bar­ents­burg in the west to Sas­sen­fjord in the east. Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te bio­lo­gists moni­tor the popu­la­ti­on with came­ra traps and real traps which are laid out by peop­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Introduced mice, Spitsbergen

Vole (micro­tus levis) in a trap inLon­gye­ar­by­en.
Pho­to © Max Schwei­ger.

The result: the voles seem to have estab­lis­hed a sta­ble popu­la­ti­on not only in Bar­ents­burg and Grum­ant­by­en, but also in the area of Dia­ba­sod­den and Hat­ten, two adja­cent cliffs with sea­b­irds colo­nies in Sas­sen­fjord. This indi­ca­tes that the rodents can sur­vi­ve on their own in the wil­der­ness in Spits­ber­gen. This may have to do with a war­ming cli­ma­te, espe­cial­ly in the win­ter.

Experts do not con­si­der this deve­lo­p­ment a thre­at for the regio­nal eco­sys­tem and bio­di­ver­si­ty, and the Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties have so far deci­ded against an attempt to erra­di­ca­te the intro­du­ced voles in Spits­ber­gen. Other coun­tries, name­ly New Zea­land and Aus­tra­lia, are taking a much dif­fe­rent approach on their sub­ant­arc­tic islands, whe­re mice, rats and other intro­du­ced spe­ci­es have been erra­di­ca­ted with gre­at effort, as has been on qui­te recent­ly in South Geor­gia.

By the way, my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (1): Spitz­ber­gen – vom Polar­licht bis zur Mit­ter­nachts­son­ne”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!

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last modification: 2021-10-13 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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