29 May 2013

Generalist feral goats have grip on Pacific

1:45 pm on 29 May 2013

An American biologist says the goat's ability to survive in a range of environments has enabled it to take over vulnerable Pacific ecosystems.

The explorer James Cook is largely responsible for introducing goats to islands in the South pacific during the 18th century and they're well established in two thirds of Pacific Island countries.

Mark Chynoweth's study, published in Pacific Science, notes that goats have done well in the region because they are extreme generalists.

"And so they can survive on just a wide variety of food and they have limited water requirements and they actually can survive for short periods of time on sea water and they can also survive in a wide variety of habitats. So there are very few things that actually limit their survival."

Mark Chynoweth says the only place feral goats have not taken hold is on atolls but the populations elsewhere are threatening the survival of many native plant species.