New Zealand has just passed half a century of rodent eradications on islands. Confirmation of the first rat eradication in New Zealand on Maria Island/Ruapuke coincided with the devastating rat invasion on Big South Cape Island/Taukihepa. We review the early history of rodent management in New Zealand leading up to and including the Big South Cape Island/Taukihepa ship rat invasion, and document the development and implementation of rodent eradication technologies on New Zealand islands up to the present day.
The outer islands (> 10km distant from the mainland) of Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park comprise less than 0.02 % of the New Zealand land surface and, taken together, support the only remaining temperate lowland and coastal communities relatively unmodified by European man and his introduced mammals. Their value as wildlife sanctuaries and scientific reserves is unexcelled by any comparable area in a National Park.
Nutrients brought to land by seabirds may provide important subsidies to terrestrial ecosystems. We measured the total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) and carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios of soils from islands with and without seabirds in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand to investigate one means by which seabirds may influence island ecosystem function. Isotope analysis revealed a seabird influence in island soils on the seabird-inhabited islands. However, significant differences in TKN were not related to seabird presence or absence.
Biological invasions are a widespread and significant component of human-caused global environmental change. The extent of invasions of oceanic islands, and their consequences for native biological diversity, have long been recognized. However, invasions of continental regions also are substantial. For example, more than 2,000 species of alien plants are established in the continental United States. These invasions represent a human-caused breakdown of the regional distinctiveness of Earth's flora and fauna—a substantial global change in and of itself.
Many endemic species on islands are vulnerable to predation and local extinction by introduced rats (Rattus spp.). As a result, the reintroduction of species to predator-free sanctuaries is a successful conservation strategy, especially in New Zealand. Nevertheless, reintroduced populations, even those that reach high densities, are still vulnerable to predation in the event of a rat reinvasion, and may also be susceptible to non-target poisoning during a subsequent eradication operation.