mus musculus

In winter 2016, the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) eradicated mice (Mus musculus) from the Antipodes Islands located at 49°S 178°E, 760 km south-east of New Zealand’s South Island. Mice were the only mammalian pest species present. They have extensively impacted the abundance and survival of invertebrates, with likely secondary impacts on endemic terrestrial birds and nesting seabird fauna. Public-private partnerships with DOC instigated the project and provided essential financial support.

Once an island vertebrate eradication is deemed successful, it is typically assumed that ecosystem recovery will follow. To date, most post-eradication monitoring focuses on the recovery of key threatened or charismatic species, such as seabirds. Little attention has been given to monitoring and quantifying the response of invertebrate communities. Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), house mice (Mus musculus), and ship rats (Rattus rattus) impacted sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island for over 140 years, with wide ranging ecosystem impacts.

The UK has sovereignty over 16 Overseas Territories, which hold some of the world's great seabird colonies and collectively support more endemic and globally threatened bird species than the whole of mainland Europe. Invasive alien mammalian predators have spread throughout most of the Territories, primarily since European expansion in the 16th century. Here we review and synthesize the scale of their impacts, historical and current, actions to reduce and reverse these impacts, and priorities for conservation.

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 rodent pest community is known, but the type and scales of damage to different crops on different islands are unknown. Knowledge about rodent pest management in other geographical regions may not be directly transferable to the Pacific region. Many studies on islands have largely focussed on the eradication of rodents from uninhabited islands for conservation benefits.

House mice are significant invasive pests, particularly on islands without native mammalian predators. As part of a multi-institutional project aimed at suppressing invasive mouse populations on islands, we aim to create heavily male-biased sex ratios with the goal of causing the populations to crash. Effective implementation of this approach will depend on engineered F1 wild-lab males being effective secondary invaders that can mate successfully.

The impacts of house mice (Mus musculus), one of four invasive rodent species in New Zealand, are only clearly revealed on islands and fenced sanctuaries without rats and other invasive predators which suppress mouse populations, influence their behaviour, and confound their impacts. When the sole invasive mammal on islands, mice can reach high densities and influence ecosystems in similar ways to rats.

Bense and Little Bense Islands (144 ha total area) have, for over a century, supported populations of three introduced pest mammals: Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), house mouse (Mus musculus), and European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). An operation to eradicate these mammals simultaneously was undertaken in winter 2016. Cereal pellets laced with brodifacoum (25 ppm) were hand-broadcast on both islands in two applications with 3,900 kg of bait applied in total. Baiting transects were spaced at 20 m intervals and bait-throwing positions located every 20 m along each transect.

Seabirds are notoriously sensitive to introduced mammalian predators and eradication programs have benefitted seabird populations and their habitats on numerous islands throughout the world. However, less evidence is available from the tropics as to the benefits of rat eradication. Here, we report the seabird recovery and vegetation dynamics on a small coralline island of the tropical western Indian Ocean, eight years after Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) eradication.

Aerial baiting from helicopters with a bait-sowing bucket and GPS to ensure coverage with anticoagulant toxins in cereal-based baits can reliably eradicate rodents on islands. Current best practice for temperate islands is to bait in winter when the rodents are not breeding, rodent numbers are lowest so competition for toxic baits is lowest, natural food is likely to be scarce, and many non-target species are absent from the island. However, short winter day lengths at high latitudes restrict the time helicopters can fly and poor weather in winter may increase risks of failure.