Pacific rats

Think of a challengeing conservation problem you have encounteres - protecting a rare species, winning support for legislation, cleaning up a river, or sustainably managing a forest.

Several aspects of the ecology of Rattus exulans are reviewed in an effort to collate a large proportion of the widely scattered literature relating to the species. Subspecific relationships are discussed to illustrate the early confusion regarding taxonomic position. Literature convening R. exulans geographic distribution, habitat, nutrition, reproduction, movements, and competition with other species of Rattus, is reviewed and discussed.

The study of dispersal processes of small mammals, and especially of rodents, has a wide range of applications and until recent years there were few publications discussing the

Introduced rats (Rattus spp.) can affect island vegetation structure and ecosystem functioning, both directly and indirectly (through the reduction of seabird populations). The extent to which structure and function of islands where rats have been eradicated will converge on uninvaded islands remains unclear. We compared three groups of islands in New Zealand: islands never invaded by rats, islands with rats, and islands on which rats have been controlled. Differences between island groups in soil and leaf chemistry and leaf production were largely explained by burrow densities.

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.

New Zealand, an archipelago of more than 2000 islands, has a terrestrial fauna especially depauperate in native land mammals. Kiore (Rattus exulans) was the first of four rodent species introduced by people. A project to eradicate invasive rats from Kapiti Island in 1996, represented a turning point in the technology, complexity and scale at which managers of natural heritage on New Zealand islands could operate. This paper includes case studies of some significant projects targeting rodents, sometimes with other introduced mammals, undertaken in the 12 years following Kapiti.