Eradications of invasive mammals from islands: why, where, how and what next?
The United Nations, under the auspices of the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD) has proclaimed 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. This has led to numerous initiatives to highlight the importance of biodiversity, increase awareness of the unprecedented level of threats to the world’s fauna and flora, and encourage action to help safeguard its future. Included among
the major commitments made by signatories to the CBD is to
rehabilitate and restore degraded ecosystems, and prevent the introduction of, and control and eradicate, alien species that could threaten ecosystems, habitats or species (http://www.cbd.int/, accessed 19 November 2010). The level of resource allocated by governments to these issues varies enormously, but, by any standard, New Zealand and Australia stand out among the developed nations in terms of the breadth and scope of their efforts to eradicate alien species, particularly on islands (Hilton and Cuthbert 2010). Earlier this year, Australia attempted one of
the most ambitious alien species eradication campaigns to date, to remove European Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Black Rats (Rattus rattus) and House Mice (Mus musculus) from the 12 870-ha Macquarie Island (54300S, 158570E). The team were unlucky, experiencing an unseasonally prolonged period of bad weather as a consequence of which the aerial baiting will now have to recommence in 2011. However, that the project was even attempted not only underlines both a highly laudable financial commitment, but a striking change in attitude in the last decade to the scale of eradications that are considered technically possible. The latter results largely from pioneering efforts in New Zealand
since the 1970s, and the development of an expertise base that has since become a global export (Towns and Broome 2003; Rauzon 2007).