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The Potential for Re-Invasion by Mammalian Pests at Maungatautari Ecological Island

Mammalian pests are excluded from Maungatautari Ecological Island by an XcluderTM pest-proof fence. Inevitably, the fence integrity will be compromised at some point by mechanisms such as treefall and flood-scour: such events could lead to pest re-invasion. Knowledge of pest activity directly outside the reserve would assist reserve managers in developing optimal breach-response procedures. This thesis described baseline data on the presence, timing of activity and behaviour of mammalian pest animals found directly at the Maungatautari fence. Two seasonal video studies investigated the effects of season (summer and winter), exterior habitat (forest and pasture) and simulated breach type ('tree-fall' and 'flood scour') on the number of pest sightings. Significantly more sightings were recorded in summer (788) than in winter (428), particularly for rodents. Rabbits were sighted significantly more often at pasture sites, but habitat type did not significantly affect sightings of any other species; nor did breach type affect sightings of any species. Ship rats were commonly sighted within the fence hood gutter. Overall, rodent, possum and cat sightings were very high, and mustelid sightings extremely low, in both seasons. Over 95% of non-lagomorph sightings were nocturnal, and the greatest threat of invasion was found to come nocturnally, from mice, and in the summer. A probability model showed that although the cumulative probability of a mammalian pest encountering a fence breach increases dramatically after dark, in reality there is always a threat of encounter, and this is always increasing with time. Over the same two studies, the behaviour of pest mammals sighted was also described. Pests were found to show interest in and enter summer breaches more often than winter breaches (p lt 0.001). Simulated breaches were encountered by pests within the first 24 hours at a very high rate (95% summer, 92.5% winter), and most likely to enter a breach were rodents. Over 7 days, breaches were encountered and entered by increasing numbers of species and possibly by more individuals; all species were shown to be willing to enter. The threat of invasion by ship rats was probably underestimated because of their higher activity within the fence hood than at the fence base; mustelids may also offer a greater threat than the results suggest, because they almost always entered a breach. It was strongly recommended that when the fence integrity is compromised, physical response should be as quick as possible, especially at night. Future research was strongly encouraged, particularly to understand invasion behaviour of animals such as ship rats and stoats, and to describe pest behaviour at real breach events.
Type of thesis
Connolly, T. A. (2008). The Potential for Re-Invasion by Mammalian Pests at Maungatautari Ecological Island (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2394
The University of Waikato
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