oryctolagus cuniculus

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.

Montecristo and Pianosa islands, although approximately equal in surface area (c. 1,000 ha), di?er greatly in substrate, human presence, vegetation and altitude (650 m vs. 30 m asl, respectively). The former island hosts one of the largest yelkouan shearwater (Pu?nus yelkouan) populations in Italy, the latter a depleted remnant of once numerous Scopoli’s shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea). Two consecutive EU-funded LIFE projects have been designed to protect these seabird populations.

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 eradication of the seven remaining animal pest species remaining on Rangitoto and Motutapu was announced by the Prime Minister and Minister of Conservation in June 2006. With stoats, cats, hedgehogs, rabbits, mice and two species of rats spread across an area of 3842ha, the proposed project is the most challenging and complex island pest eradication the Department of Conservation (DOC) has ever attempted.