Targeting Season and Age for Optimizing Control of Invasive Rabbits

Konstans Wells, Phillip Cassey, Ron Sinclair, Greg Mutze, David Peacock, Robert Lacy, Brian Cooke, Robert O'Hara, Barry Brook, Damien Fordham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The effectiveness of invasive species control can be influenced by seasonal fluctuations in reproduction in response to environmental conditions. However, it is difficult to determine how demography and environmental conditions affect the efficacy of different control efforts from field trials alone. We incorporated an ontogenetic growth model into a hierarchical Bayesian mark-recapture model to estimate age-structured seasonal survival rates for European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Australia, based on a >15-year data set. We integrated this demographic information into an individual-based simulation model, which reproduces seasonal birth-death processes, to test the effectiveness of pest-management schemes that differed in intensity, specificity to age groups, and seasonal timing. Control measures that were simulated to affect only juveniles had a negligible effect on population size, whereas targeting subadults and adults led to considerable population declines when applied after the breeding season. Management that affected rabbits of all age groups caused significant population reductions. However, even repeated control efforts that caused 95% mortality each year only resulted in predictions of local population extirpation after an average of 119 calendar weeks in the absence of immigration. Our simulation study supports the use of pest rabbit control methods that account for demographic dynamics explicitly, and target those individuals with high reproductive potential. More broadly, we show that local and temporal population extirpation, or recovery, depends largely on the trade-off between control intensity and frequency for species with recurrent population oscillations
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)990-999
    Number of pages10
    JournalThe Journal of Wildlife Management
    Volume80
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Fingerprint

    targeting
    rabbits
    pest control
    environmental conditions
    reproductive potential
    population decline
    control methods
    demography
    invasive species
    breeding season
    demographic statistics
    immigration
    trade-off
    simulation
    population size
    oscillation
    environmental factors
    Oryctolagus cuniculus
    mortality
    pest management

    Cite this

    Wells, K., Cassey, P., Sinclair, R., Mutze, G., Peacock, D., Lacy, R., ... Fordham, D. (2016). Targeting Season and Age for Optimizing Control of Invasive Rabbits. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 80(6), 990-999. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21093
    Wells, Konstans ; Cassey, Phillip ; Sinclair, Ron ; Mutze, Greg ; Peacock, David ; Lacy, Robert ; Cooke, Brian ; O'Hara, Robert ; Brook, Barry ; Fordham, Damien. / Targeting Season and Age for Optimizing Control of Invasive Rabbits. In: The Journal of Wildlife Management. 2016 ; Vol. 80, No. 6. pp. 990-999.
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    abstract = "The effectiveness of invasive species control can be influenced by seasonal fluctuations in reproduction in response to environmental conditions. However, it is difficult to determine how demography and environmental conditions affect the efficacy of different control efforts from field trials alone. We incorporated an ontogenetic growth model into a hierarchical Bayesian mark-recapture model to estimate age-structured seasonal survival rates for European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Australia, based on a >15-year data set. We integrated this demographic information into an individual-based simulation model, which reproduces seasonal birth-death processes, to test the effectiveness of pest-management schemes that differed in intensity, specificity to age groups, and seasonal timing. Control measures that were simulated to affect only juveniles had a negligible effect on population size, whereas targeting subadults and adults led to considerable population declines when applied after the breeding season. Management that affected rabbits of all age groups caused significant population reductions. However, even repeated control efforts that caused 95{\%} mortality each year only resulted in predictions of local population extirpation after an average of 119 calendar weeks in the absence of immigration. Our simulation study supports the use of pest rabbit control methods that account for demographic dynamics explicitly, and target those individuals with high reproductive potential. More broadly, we show that local and temporal population extirpation, or recovery, depends largely on the trade-off between control intensity and frequency for species with recurrent population oscillations",
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    Wells, K, Cassey, P, Sinclair, R, Mutze, G, Peacock, D, Lacy, R, Cooke, B, O'Hara, R, Brook, B & Fordham, D 2016, 'Targeting Season and Age for Optimizing Control of Invasive Rabbits', The Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 80, no. 6, pp. 990-999. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21093

    Targeting Season and Age for Optimizing Control of Invasive Rabbits. / Wells, Konstans; Cassey, Phillip; Sinclair, Ron; Mutze, Greg; Peacock, David; Lacy, Robert; Cooke, Brian; O'Hara, Robert; Brook, Barry; Fordham, Damien.

    In: The Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 80, No. 6, 2016, p. 990-999.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - Wells, Konstans

    AU - Cassey, Phillip

    AU - Sinclair, Ron

    AU - Mutze, Greg

    AU - Peacock, David

    AU - Lacy, Robert

    AU - Cooke, Brian

    AU - O'Hara, Robert

    AU - Brook, Barry

    AU - Fordham, Damien

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    AB - The effectiveness of invasive species control can be influenced by seasonal fluctuations in reproduction in response to environmental conditions. However, it is difficult to determine how demography and environmental conditions affect the efficacy of different control efforts from field trials alone. We incorporated an ontogenetic growth model into a hierarchical Bayesian mark-recapture model to estimate age-structured seasonal survival rates for European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Australia, based on a >15-year data set. We integrated this demographic information into an individual-based simulation model, which reproduces seasonal birth-death processes, to test the effectiveness of pest-management schemes that differed in intensity, specificity to age groups, and seasonal timing. Control measures that were simulated to affect only juveniles had a negligible effect on population size, whereas targeting subadults and adults led to considerable population declines when applied after the breeding season. Management that affected rabbits of all age groups caused significant population reductions. However, even repeated control efforts that caused 95% mortality each year only resulted in predictions of local population extirpation after an average of 119 calendar weeks in the absence of immigration. Our simulation study supports the use of pest rabbit control methods that account for demographic dynamics explicitly, and target those individuals with high reproductive potential. More broadly, we show that local and temporal population extirpation, or recovery, depends largely on the trade-off between control intensity and frequency for species with recurrent population oscillations

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