Killing in the name of conservation

Feb 22, 2010

Thanks to the introduction of various non-native species to Australia throughout history, the country is overrun with feral animals. A new application developed by ecologists at the University of Adelaide to be published in the first issue of Methods in Ecology and Evolution, the new journal from the British Ecological Society, aims to improve the success of wildlife managers tasked with eradicating such problems.

Often, strategies employed by government and wildlife managers can be at best controversial, such as the recent internationally reported plans to cull vast numbers of feral camels, and at worst a catalyst for an even bigger problem. This was witnessed on Macquarie Island, where the eradication of wild cats led to a ten-fold increase in the rabbit population, likely to cost $24 million to resolve. A research study highlighting this latter example was published last year in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology.

Now, a paper published in the inaugural issue of the British Ecological Society's new journal, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, aims to help wildlife managers plan any culling strategies more effectively by modelling the financial and population impact of their planned strategy using a spreadsheet-based application which the authors have made available online.

"Unfortunately, a lot of money tends to be wasted in Australia on reducing the damage that feral species cause," said co-author Corey Bradshaw from the University of Adelaide. "This is because density reduction culling programmes aren't usually done with much forethought, organisation or associated research.

Our Excel-spreadsheet 'Spatio-Temporal Animal Reduction' (S.T.A.R.) model is designed specifically to optimise the culling strategies for feral pigs, buffalo and horses in Kakadu National Park (northern Australia), but our aim was to make it easy enough for anyone to use and modify it so that it could be applied to any invasive species anywhere.

Our hope is that wildlife managers responsible for safeguarding the biodiversity of places like Kakadu National Park actually use this tool to maximise their efficiency."

Explore further: Man 'expelled from Croatia for punching monk seal'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Threatened or invasive? Species' fates identified

Jun 13, 2008

A new ecological study led by a University of Adelaide researcher should help identify species prone to extinction under environmental change, and species that are likely to become a pest.

Michigan wants hunters to shoot feral pigs

Jan 30, 2008

Feral pigs have become such a problem in Michigan that the state Department of Natural Resources has asked deer hunters in 51 counties to shoot any they see.

Save the whales? Sure, but how many?

Nov 29, 2006

How many wildebeest should live in the Serengeti? How many grizzly bears should call Yellowstone home? Are there too few tigers in the world? Conservationist biologists grapple with the task of setting population targets ...

Recommended for you

Brother of Hibiscus is found alive and well on Maui

15 hours ago

Most people are familiar with Hibiscus flowers- they are an iconic symbol of tropical resorts worldwide where they are commonly planted in the landscape. Some, like Hawaii's State Flower- Hibiscus brackenridgei- are en ...

Boat noise impacts development and survival of sea hares

17 hours ago

While previous studies have shown that marine noise can affect animal movement and communication, with unknown ecological consequences, scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter and the École Pratique des Hautes ...

Classic Lewis Carroll character inspires new ecological model

Jul 30, 2014

Inspired by the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, collaborators from the University of Illinois and National University of Singapore improved a 35-year-old ecology model to better understand how species ...

Saving seeds the right way can save the world's plants

Jul 30, 2014

Exotic pests, shrinking ranges and a changing climate threaten some of the world's most rare and ecologically important plants, and so conservationists establish seed collections to save the seeds in banks ...

User comments : 0