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Invasive alien species have been implicated in nearly half of recent bird extinctions

Guam Rail, © G Dutson

Invasive species were the most important driver of bird extinctions since 1500, being implicated in almost half of cases. Predation by introduced rats and cats and disease caused by introduced pathogens have been the most important impacts.


The major threats contributing to bird extinctions since 1500

Analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database (2008)

In total, 134 bird species are confirmed to have gone extinct since 1500 (Brooks 2000, BirdLife International 2008). The impacts of invasive alien species, overexploitation by humans, and habitat loss and conversion driven by logging and the spread of agriculture have been the major contributory factors (see figure). Invasive species are associated with the extinction of at least 71 species. Predation by introduced dogs, pigs and mongooses, and habitat destruction by sheep, rabbits and goats, have been implicated in some cases. However, it is predation by introduced rats and cats, and diseases caused by introduced pathogens, which have been the most deadly factors, contributing to the extinction of some 41, 34 and 16 species respectively.



Related Case Studies in other sections

References

BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008. CD-ROM. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.
 
Brooks, T. (2000) Pp. 701–708 in BirdLife International Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Compiled 2004, updated 2008

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2008) Invasive alien species have been implicated in nearly half of recent bird extinctions . Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/127. Checked: 21/10/2014