Problem Definition-Research

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.

Rat eradications on tropical islands have been less successful than operations in temperate climates. This is likely due to poor understanding of the factors unique to tropical regions that rat populations respond to, such as high numbers of land crabs, aseasonal climates and habitats not found at higher latitudes. On Aldabra Atoll, southern Seychelles, black rats were monitored for one year in three habitats over three climatic seasons to investigate changes in density and breeding to inform planning for a possible rat eradication.

Invasive rats are found on most island groups of the world, and usually more than one species has invaded. On tropical islands populations of different invasive rat species can co-exist on very small islands, but the population dynamics of such co-existing rat species, their impact on each other, and the mechanisms of coexistence are not well known. This lack of knowledge is a barrier to improving the success rate of tropical island rat eradications.

Rodents remain one of the most widespread and damaging invasive alien species on islands globally. The current toolbox for insular rodent eradications is reliant on the application of sufficient anticoagulant toxicant into every potential rodent territory across an island. Despite significant advances in the use of these toxicants over recent decades, numerous situations remain where eradication is challenging or not yet feasible.

Invasive vertebrates are a leading cause of the extinction on islands and rats (Rattus spp.) are one of the most damaging to island ecosystems. Methods to eradicate rates from islands are well established and there have been over 580 successful eradications to date. Increasingly, rat eradications are being implemented on tropical islands, a reflection of the need to protect the threatened biodiversity in the tropics. Yet rat eradications on tropical islands fail more frequently than those in temperate climates.

Late is an isolated and uninhabited island located about 55 km WSW of the island of Vava'u, in the Kingdom of Tonga. Late supports a tropical broad-leaf forest ecosystem, one of the most threatened ecosystem types in the world and one of the best remaining tracts of diverse native forest in Tonga. Owing to its relatively unmodified forest communities, Late is also a global stronghold for two IUCN listed species of bird, one native mammal, and six species of reptile.

Vatthe the largest Conservation Area, and the most extensive lowland alluvial forest left in Vanuatu, is under threat from an invasive vine, big leaf (Merremia peltata), which is causing the death of large numbers of canopy trees.

Merremia peltata is a species with uncertain status in the island nations of the Pacific region. It has been designated introduced and invasive in some countries whereas it is considered native in others. Recent increase in its abundance across some island landscapes have led to calls for its designation as an invasive