Eradication

Invasive species pose an enormous threat in the Pacific: not only do they strongly affect biodiversity, but they also potentially affect the economic, social, and cultural wellbeing of Pacific peoples. Invasive species can potentially be managed and that their impacts can potentially be avoided, eliminated, or reduced. However, neither the costs nor the numerous benefits of management are well understood in the Pacific.

Eradication of introduced species from inhabited islands requires consideration of both technical and social feasibility. Historically, biologists have struggled to engage successfully in the social components of eradication planning. Island communities have unique features that require consideration in eradication planning. Social impact assessment is a powerful planning tool used widely outside of wildlife management. We outline the core components of a social impact assessment as it could be applied to eradication planning on inhabited islands.

Islands house a majority of the world’s biodiversity and are thus critical for biodiversity conservation. Seabird nesting colonies provide nutrients that are integral to maintain island biodiversity and ecosystem function. Invasive rats destroy seabird colonies and thus the island ecosystems that depend on seabird-derived nutrients. After rat eradication, it is unclear how long ecosystem recovery may take, although some speculate on the order of centuries. I looked at ecosystem recovery along a chronosequence of islands that had 12–22 years to recover following rat eradication.

It is important to recall that Madagascar is a country of exceptional biodiversity worldwide. For example, among the 300 species of amphibians reported, the rate of endemism is nearly 100%. The recent incursion of the invasive Asian toad constitutes a direct threat to this unique biodiversity but also to human health and the country's economy. We suspect the toads impact may be comparable to the Cane toad in Australia; we must act swiftly to prevent a similar disaster unfolding in Madagascar.