Wild Birds

Alaotra Grebes




The Alaotra Grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus) – also known as Delacour’s Little Grebe or Rusty Grebe – was a small diving bird (grebe) found only on Lake Alaotra (the largest lake in Madagascar) and surrounding lakes. The last sighting (which may have been a hybrid with the Little Grebe) was in 1985.

In 2010, the Alaotra Grebe was officially classified as extinct, according to BirdLife International – a leading bird conservation organization. They reported that the species declined rapidly due to carnivorous fish being introduced to the lake and the use of nylon gill nets by local fishermen.

This species declined in the 20th century, mainly due to habitat destruction and predation by introduced snakehead murrel (Channa striata) – a fish — (Andrianandrasana et al., 2005). Also, the few remaining birds increasingly hybridized with Little Grebes which use the wetlands as a migration stopover site; as the species differed in several key aspects, the hybrid birds may have suffered from decreased fitness, to the detriment of the rufolavatus gene pool.

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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