Above Picture:  Peter Ryan weighs a Vulnerable Inaccessible Finch Nesospiza acunhae on Inaccessible Island in 2018; photograph by Ben Dilley

The Mouse-Free Marion Project is pleased to have a scientist with the international stature of Professor Peter Ryan as Chair of its Scientific and Technical Advisory Group (MFM-STAG).  The advisory group serves to offer scientific and technical guidance to the project’s Management Committee.  An A-rated South African biologist, Peter is the Director of the renowned FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape TownHe is a graduate of the university, receiving his Masters’ degree for a study of the impacts of ingested plastic on seabirds and his PhD researching the evolutionary ecology of buntings in the Tristan Archipelago.  After a post-doc at the University of California he was appointed academic Coordinator of the highly-regarded Masters Programme in Conservation Biology at the ‘Fitztitute’ in 1993, becoming its Director in 2014.  Although he mostly works on seabirds and their conservation, he has wide-ranging interests in avian biology, and maintains an interest in plastic pollution, especially in marine systems.  Peter has made many research visits to Gough and Marion Islands since his first visits in 1984, conducting research on their birds as well as on the islands’ broader ecology, including the impacts of invasive species such as House Mice.  He has consistently been one of the university’s most prolific publishers of papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.  Peter is a keen birder and believes in the importance of promoting amateur involvement in ornithology.  He has written several books about birds and their identification.

Peter Ryan writes: “Island restoration efforts, such as the Mouse-Free Marion Project, provide one of the most effective, long-lasting conservation interventions.  Being involved in the Gough Island Restoration Programme has been a highlight of my career, and I can only hope that we are able to raise the necessary funds to eradicate mice from Marion Island”.

The MFM-STAG has a large national and international membership of scientists and conservation managers with knowledge and experience on variously island restoration and biosecurity, fauna and flora of Marion and Prince Edward Islands, island logistics, climate and weather forecasting, captive bird management, and compliance and legal aspects of the eradication.  The more than 50 STAG members are “on call” to offer guidance and input to various aspects of the project that may be linked to their area of expertise.

Peter’s commitment to seeing the end of Marion’s mice is also shown by his generous sponsorship of 25 hectares in the “Sponsor a Hectare” initiative by donating R 25 000 to the project.  You can watch a short video as Peter Ryan talks about Marion Island, and listen to an 80-minute recording of his recent online lecture entitled “After the cats…tackling mice on Marion Island” (also available on this website here).

John Cooper, Member, Scientific and Technical Advisory Group, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 04 November 2021