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Validating census methods to measure changes in house mouse populations

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BACKGROUND: Tracking and census baiting are two techniques that are commonly advocated for monitoring the size of mouse populations. However, currently these techniques are only able to provide an index of population size, rather than an assessment of absolute numbers. In this study the authors tested the reliability of both tracking (footprints left on tiles of fixed size) and census baiting as indices of population size, and sought to calibrate levels of activity and bait consumption under both semi‐natural and field conditions (inside farm buildings).

RESULTS: Under semi‐natural conditions, census baiting produced more satisfactory population estimates than those derived from tracking activity. An initial field trial established that the optimum bait point density for this technique was 1 point per 2 m. Subsequent field trials demonstrated that the bait census technique offers a way to estimate the approximate size of stable populations of mice (population size = (mean daily bait consumption ‐ 36.3)/2.46).

CONCLUSION: The results to date are sufficiently encouraging to support the use of this cost‐effective approach to monitoring mouse numbers in the type of habitats investigated in this study. © Crown copyright 2008. Reproduced with the permission of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Keywords: Mus domesticus; bait census; capture/mark/release; density estimation; house mouse; tracking activity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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