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Even the smallest of animals can have a large impact on an ecosystem. This is true for the introduction of Mongooses across Hawaiian islands. Mongooses that were first introduced to control rat populations, now are a nuisance for Hawaiians and threaten native species. Control options for the species are limited due to the breeding behavior of mongoose and longevity of trapping effects. Invasive mongoose populations in Hawaii threaten native bird and turtle species, which could be resolved through the introduction or use of a predator species. A large part of their invasiveness is their ability to breed prolifically.Males become sexually active at 4 months and females usually have 3 pups a litter, making it difficult to fully eradicate from an area.
Small Asian Mongooses themselves make excellent predators of small animals.Herpestes javanicus, is a small mammal that preys on insects,small mammals,birds, and reptiles.Generally prey on anything in the area, and have been known to even attack venomous cobras.Being native to India and South Asian countries such as Vietnam, mongooses have adapted to survive in those areas.Their long and slim bodies combined with their short legs and speckled brown fur allow for concealment in their natural habitat of dry forests. They often live in burrows and sleep in them during the night. Mongooses have also been known to be able to survive in coastal and jungle forests as evident in the hawaiian islands.
Mongooses are invasive to not only Hawaiian islands, they also have been introduced in other pacific islands along with some islands in the Caribbean. Due to their use in Jamaican sugar cane fields as rat eradication, the practice was spread throughout many sugarcane producing islands including Hawaiian islands. A big part of what makes the mongoose invasive is their rapid population growth.While their population is very hard to measure, due to the absence of a predator in all Hawaiian islands and large amounts of prey available it can be assumed that mongoose population growth is very rapid. With Mongoose’s main prey in hawaii being small birds, we can prove its rapid population growth through population change in birds.
In this chart we can view bird populations on the far right, along with the corresponding years in the far left. As we can see the bid population drops in the 1980s and stays between 100 to 200 in the following years.Although Kuai has no official documented mongoose populations, there is a large amount of documented sightings and captures. “One female mongoose was found dead along a road in 1976 near Kalaheo, and sightings have been reported all over the Garden Island. In May, 2012, KISC captured the first live mongoose near the Lihue Airport. A second mongoose was captured in June 2012, near the Nawiliwili port. KISC encourages reports of sightings (821-1490) and is working to verify whether there is a population.”(Hawaii.gov). As we can see the mongoose population growth has a clear effect on bird populations in Hawaii.
As mentioned before, Mongooses were first introduced to the islands Maui, Molokai, Oahu, and Hawaii by humans int 1883. This was in order to control rat populations in sugarcane farms, but without much research since rats are nocturnal while mongooses are not. Rat populations became unaffected by the introduction and the invasive wreaks havoc on other native populations for no reason. Another example of how humans unknowingly affect ecosystems with no thought put into the decision.
Mongoose control has been relatively unsuccessful.Trapping of mongoose is very expensive and is failing due to the mongoose’s rapid breeding. Mongoose proof fencing has also been implemented to control the spread of the species. Because the islands of Hawaii are small and have little ecological interaction, eradication or even control s still possible. A very possible option is the introduction of a predator species to control and possibly create balance in the ecosystems. With proper aprovement from the Hawaiian Invasive Species Council
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