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Invasive Rodent Eradication on Islands

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Invasive mammals are the greatest threat to island biodiversity and invasive rodents are likely responsible for the greatest number of extinctions and ecosystem changes. Techniques for eradicating rodents from islands were developed over 2 decades ago. Since that time there has been a significant development and application of this conservation tool. We reviewed the literature on invasive rodent eradications to assess its current state and identify actions to make it more effective. Worldwide, 332 successful rodent eradications have been undertaken; we identified 35 failed eradications and 20 campaigns of unknown result. Invasive rodents have been eradicated from 284 islands (47,628 ha). With the exception of two small islands, rodenticides were used in all eradication campaigns. Brodifacoum was used in 71% of campaigns and 91% of the total area treated. The most frequent rodenticide distribution methods (from most to least) are bait stations, hand broadcasting, and aerial broadcasting. Nevertheless, campaigns using aerial broadcast made up 76% of the total area treated. Mortality of native vertebrates due to nontarget poisoning has been documented, but affected species quickly recover to pre-eradication population levels or higher. A variety of methods have been developed to mitigate nontarget impacts, and applied research can further aid in minimizing impacts. Land managers should routinely remove invasive rodents from islands <100 ha that lack vertebrates susceptible to nontarget poisoning. For larger islands and those that require nontarget mitigation, expert consultation and greater planning effort are needed. With the exception of house mice (Mus musculus), island size may no longer be the limiting factor for rodent eradications; rather, social acceptance and funding may be the main challenges. To be successful, large-scale rodent campaigns should be integrated with programs to improve the livelihoods of residents, island biosecurity, and reinvasion response programs.
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Keywords: Mus musculus; Rattus exulans; Rattus norvegicus; Rattus rattus; conservación de islas; eradication; erradicación; especies invasoras; invasive species; island conservation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Island Conservation Canada, 680-220 Cambie Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B 2M9, Canada 2: Landcare Research, P.O. Box 69, Lincoln 8152, New Zealand 3: Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas A.C., Avenida López Mateos No. 1590-3, Ensenada, Baja California, C.P. 22880, México 4: Island Conservation, Center for Ocean Health, University of California, 100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, California 95060, U.S.A. 5: 48 Manse Road, Papakura 2113, New Zealand 6: INFS-Italian Wildlife Institute, Via Ca' Fornacetta 9, Ozzano Emilia (BO) I-40064, Italy 7: INRA–Equipe Faune Sauvage et Biologie de la Conservation, Station SCRIBE, Campus de Beaulieu, 35 042 Rennes Cedex, France 8: Invasive Species Specialist Group, University of Auckland, Tamaki Campus, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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