Fur Seal Deaths Maybe Linked to Mice

Photo of male caracasses / (c) PJN de Bruyn

Invasive species are often the culprits behind ecosystem imbalances causing the loss of native species.  We often think of direct competition for food (say introduced Gambusia mosquitofish outcompeting native killifish here in Florida) or space (like kudzu vines overgrowing practically everything) as the sole impact that drives such imbalances, but introduced species also introduce new diseases. 

PLOS One published a report on a mortality event in early 2007 of male sub-Antarctic fur seals that suggests their untimely demise is due to novel pathogens brought in by invasive house mice (Mus musculus) present on Marion Island, a prominent rookery for this species of pinniped.  Researchers believe a new species of Streptococcus bacteria, or possibly a new member of the cardiovirus family, typically carried by mice made a successful “host shift” into the sub-Antarctic fur seals.  Unfortunately it appears that they need to continue to monitor the affected population of fur seals to determine which explanation is behind the mortality event for future management and conservation.

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One Comment to “Fur Seal Deaths Maybe Linked to Mice”

  1. I’ve added your site to my “blog roll.” I only have around a dozen: all water or Florida specific. Yours definitely fits that bill. Check it out if you haven’t already.