Unexpected consequences of control: competitive vs. predator release in a four-species assemblage of invasive mammals

Wendy RUSCOE, David S.L. Ramsey, Roger P. Pech, Peter Sweetapple, Ivor Yockney, Mandy Barron, Mike Perry, Graham Nugent, Roger Carran, Rodney Warne, Chris Brausch, Richard Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

93 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Invasive species are frequently the target of eradication or control programmes to mitigate their impacts. However, manipulating single species in isolation can lead to unexpected consequences for other species, with outcomes such as mesopredator release demonstrated both theoretically and empirically in vertebrate assemblages with at least two trophic levels. Less is known about the consequences of species removal in more complex assemblages where a greater number of interacting invaders increases the potential for selective species removal to result in unexpected changes in community structure. Using a replicated Before-After Control-Impact field experiment with a four-species assemblage of invasive mammals we show that species interactions in the community are dominated by competition rather than predation. There was no measurable response of two mesopredators (rats and mice) following control of the top predator (stoats), but there was competitive release of rats following removal of a herbivore (possums), and competitive release of mice following removal of rats.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1042
Number of pages8
JournalEcology Letters
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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