A Once Thought Extinct Species of Mice Repopulates after an Explosion

Sabah Bari ’24

Figure 1: This is not a picture of the Apomys sacobianus mouse, but the mouse in the image is a similar looking mouse that has dark fur and depicts how the A. sacobianus is larger in size than a typical mouse.

Mount Pinatubo was known for being a quiet volcano located on the most populated Island of Luzon in the Philippines. However, the calmness of Mount Pinatubo came to a halt on June 15, 1991 when the volcano erupted. The destruction of the explosive volcano negatively affected the wildlife on Luzon, except two main species of the Philippine forest mice. Upon the eruption, a species of mice that was thought to be extinct had more than just survived it; they mass populated the area, becoming the most abundant mammal on Mount Pinatubo.

The discovery of the Apomys sacobianus mice is an example of how adverse effects of an explosion can still provide enough resources for these small mammals to thrive. The genetic material of several mice were similar enough for all to be assigned under the umbrella species name of Apomys sacobianus and were found either on the Lubang or Luzon Islands. As shown through genetic sampling, this species of mice was known for lacking stapedial foramen, which allows the researchers to suggest that any mouse that has the same carotid circulatory pattern may be a A. sacobianus from Mt. Pinatubo. After the researchers studied various anatomical features of the mice, such as the measurements of the mice’s maxillary, diastemal length, and braincase height, they concluded that the mice present on Mt. Pinatubo are variations of the species A. sacobianus known as A. Megapomys and A. lubangensis. These species are common and abundant on Lubang Luzon Island.

As ecologists understand the impact of the volcano eruption in the Philippines, the findings of the study suggest that A. sacobianus mice were repopulating the devastated area. This research illustrated how big, destructive effects on the ecosystem are not the end for organisms in the area, as small mammals can grow in population size. Therefore, these small mammals can be the start to a new beginning for an ecosystem to thrive in.

Work(s) cited:

[1]Two new species of Philippine forest mice (Apomys, Muridae, Rodentia) from Lubang and Luzon Islands, with a redescription of Apomys sacobianus Johnson, 1962

[2] Image retrieved from:

https://unsplash.com/photos/frjYZxHZs_s

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