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Chronology and causes of the extinction of the Lava Mouse, Malpaisomys insularis (Rodentia: Muridae) from the Canary Islands

  • Juan Carlos Rando (a1), Josep Antoni Alcover (a2) (a3), Juan Francisco Navarro (a4), Francisco García-Talavera (a5), Rainer Hutterer (a3) (a6) and Jacques Michaux (a7)...

Understanding late Holocene extinctions on islands requires accurate chronologies for all relevant events, including multiple colonisations by humans and the introduction of alien species. The most widely held hypothesis on the causes of Holocene island vertebrate extinctions incorporates human impacts, although climatic-related hypotheses cannot be excluded. Both hypotheses have been suggested to account for the extinction of the endemic Lava Mouse, Malpaisomys insularis from the Canary Islands. Here we present the first accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) 14C ages from collagen of M. insularis bones from ancient owl pellets collected at Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, eastern Atlantic Ocean). These new dates contribute to an understanding of the extinction of this species. We are able to exclude climatic causes, predation by invasive species, and competition with the house mouse, Mus musculus. The arrival of Europeans in the Canary Islands correlates with the extinction of Malpaisomys. The introduction of rats, Rattus spp., together with their parasites and diseases, emerges as the most reasonable hypothesis explaining the extinction of M. insularis.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Institut Mediterrani d'Estudis Avançats (CSIC-UIB), Ctra. Valldemossa km 7.5, E-07122 Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. Fax: +34 971172300. E-mail addresses: (J.C. Rando), (J.A. Alcover), (J.F. Navarro), (F. García-Talavera), (R. Hutterer), (J. Michaux).
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