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Indirect effects of invasive species removal devastate World Heritage Island


Bergstrom, DM and Lucieer, A and Kiefer, K and Wasley, J and Belbin, L and Pedersen, TK and Chown, SL, Indirect effects of invasive species removal devastate World Heritage Island, Journal of Applied Ecology, 46, (1) pp. 73-81. ISSN 0021-8901 (2009) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01601.x


Summary 1. Owing to the detrimental impacts of invasive alien species, their control is often a priority for conservation management. Whereas the potential for unforeseen consequences of management is recognized, their associated complexity and costs are less widely appreciated. 2. We demonstrate that theoretically plausible trophic cascades associated with invasive species removal not only take place in reality, but can also result in rapid and drastic landscape-wide changes to ecosystems. 3. Using a combination of population data from of an invasive herbivore, plot-scale vegetation analyses, and satellite imagery, we show how a management intervention to eradicate a mesopredator has inadvertently and rapidly precipitated landscape-wide change on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. This happened despite the eradication being positioned within an integrated pest management framework. Following eradication of cats Felis catus in 2001, rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus numbers increased substantially although a control action was in place ( Myxoma virus), resulting in island-wide ecosystem effects. 4. Synthesis and applications . Our results highlight an important lesson for conservation agencies working to eradicate invasive species globally; that is, risk assessment of management interventions must explicitly consider and plan for their indirect effects, or face substantial subsequent costs. On Macquarie Island, the cost of further conservation action will exceed AU$24 million.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Invasive species; Cats; Rabbits; Sub-Antarctic; Trophic cascade
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Biosecurity science and invasive species ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Lucieer, A (Professor Arko Lucieer)
UTAS Author:Pedersen, TK (Mr Tore Pedersen)
ID Code:54573
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:273
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2009-02-25
Last Modified:2015-02-03

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