A review of conservation threats on Gough Island: A case study for terrestrial conservation in the Southern Oceans
Gough Island is a remote Southern Ocean Island that, despite having no permanent human population, is under substantial conservation threat as a result of human activity. A considerable proportion of the flora and fauna has been accidentally introduced, and new data are presented showing that ca. 70% of the free-living pterygote insect species are introductions. We describe how endangered seabirds that breed on the island may suffer from human fisheries activities and present new evidence showing that local temperatures have risen significantly since 1963, threatening to alter the architecture and composition of species communities. These observations are an indication that the terrestrial ecosystems of other remote islands in the Southern Oceans may be under greater conservation threat than previously thought. In light of the threats described, we discuss conservation management priorities for Gough Island. To facilitate conservation of the indigenous biota, and that of similar islands elsewhere, we suggest that a combination of proactive measures designed to maintain the integrity of island communities, and monitoring programs designed rapidly to identify new conservation threats, should be implemented conscientiously. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.