Invasive species - Oceania

Rodents are a key pest to agricultural and rural island communities of the South Pacific, but there is limited information of their impact on the crops and livelihoods of small-scale farmers.

The influence on crop damage of Rattus norvegicus, Rattus rattus, and the native Polynesian rat, Rattus exulans, was studied during the establishment of a rat control program for the Tongan Department of Agriculture in 1969. This was the first long-term study of Tongan rodents. Previous scientific literature on Tongan mammals is very sparse. The Kingdom of Tonga, or Friendly Islands, consists of approximately 150 small islands with a combined area of about 256 square miles at lat 21 0 S.

Background: The Pacific Islands have environmental conditions highly favourable for transmission of leptospirosis, a neglected zoonosis with highest incidence in the tropics, and Oceania in particular.

Global biodiversity loss is disproportionately rapid on islands, where invasive species are a major driver of extinctions. To inform conservation planning aimed at preventing extinctions, we identify the distribution and biogeographic patterns of highly threatened terrestrial vertebrates (classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature) and invasive vertebrates on ~465,000 islands worldwide by conducting a comprehensive literature review and interviews with more than 500 experts.

Invasive species are plants or animals living where they don’t belong and causing harm.