Assessing the impact of introduced rats on the lizard fauna of Lord Howe Island
A project undertaken by Michael Thompson (University of Sydney) and David Chapple (Monash University)
Lord Howe Island is located 760 km northeast of Sydney. The Lord Howe Island Group (LHIG) includes the main island and 28 smaller outlying islands/islets, the most distant (23 km southeast) is the spectacular 551 m high Ball's Pyramid. The LHIG represents the eroded remnants of a previously large shield volcano that formed approximately 7 mya. The LHIG was World Heritage Listed in 1982 due to its diverse and largely endemic flora and fauna. Rats (Rattus rattus) were accidentally introduced to the island in June 1918 when the steamship ‘Makambo' ran aground and cargo was washed ashore. Rats have since been implicated in the extinction of several bird species, a species of bat, and numerous insect species. Many other species have experienced severe population declines and extirpation from the main island, and now largely persist on the surrounding islands that are rat-free.
The objectives of this project are to:
Figure 1. View from Roach Island (Admiralty Islands) towards Sugarloaf Island (foreground) and Lord Howe Island. Photograph: David Chapple
Figure 2. View from Blackburn Island towards the Windy Point pitfall trapping area. Photograph: David Chapple
Figure 3. Mt Lidgbird (left) and Mt Gower (right) viewed from Blackburn Island. Photograph: David Chapple
Figure 4. North Bay viewed from Blackburn Island. Photograph: David Chapple
Figure 5. The view of the Admiralty Island from Mt Eliza. Roach Island is the largest island in the group. Photograph: David Chapple
Figure 6. Lord Howe Island gecko, Christinus guentheri. Photograph: Rebecca Bray.
Figure 7. Lord Howe Island skink, Oligosoma lichenigerum. Photograph: Rebecca Bray.