Brushtail possums at a 21 ha site at Castlepoint in the Wairarapa, New Zealand, were studied with capture-mark-recapture from August 1989 to August 1994. The mean annual adult population density, based on counts of mature possums trapped each year, was 8.7 per ha and varied by only small amounts during the study period. The median survival age was 32 months (95% CI 28–39) for females and 27 months (95% CI 26–30) for males.
Effective biodiversity conservation in lowland New Zealand requires an understanding of the relative benefits of managing impacts of native forest loss versus controlling invasive species. We used bird count data from 195 locations across mainland northern New Zealand to examine how the abundance and richness of native forest birds varied across wide gradients of native forest cover (c. 0–100%) and intensity of invasive species control (‘eradication’, ‘high-intensity rat and possum’, ‘low-intensity rat and possum’, ‘periodic possum’ and ‘none’).
Sodium nitrite (NaNO2), a commonly used food preservative, has been researched in New Zealand for the control of brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). In sufficiently high doses, NaNO2 is toxic because it disrupts circulatory transport of oxygen. As NaNO2 is very bitter, encapsulation and mixing it through a highly palatable bait formulation is necessary to effectively deliver it to target pest species. In no-choice cage trials, 12/12 possums consumed a lethal dose of toxic paste bait and died on average after 95.6 minutes (±4.9 SE).
Predation at nests contributes importantly to current declines of New Zealand forest birds. We monitored the survival of natural and artificial arboreal nests in small forest remnants south-west of Hamilton, where ship rat (Rattus rattus) and possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) abundances were also being measured in Summer 2008/09. Artificial cup nests (N = 77) were placed in replicated blocks with and without pest control, in both December and January.
Banana passionfruit (Passiflora tripartita var. mollissima) is a noxious vine that is invasive in forest patches in coastal regions throughout New Zealand. We investigated the dispersal mechanisms that facilitate its spread in the Marlborough Sounds. To find out which animals act as dispersers, we monitored tagged fruits in the field. Fruits were removed quickly after ripening.
The risks to non-target species of a newly developed bait containing either 0.15% 1080 or 0.6% cholecalciferol in a gel matrix were assessed. Very few of them ate gel bait. The safety of the gel bait is further enhanced by its placement in the purpose-designed bait station from which little spillage occurs, and which can be placed so that it is out of reach of most non-target animals. Comparative data show that nontarget species are considerably less susceptible to cholecalciferol than to sodium monofluoroacetate (1080).