While invasive rats are demonstrably inimical to indigenous vertebrate species, there has not been unequivocal evidence of benefit to invertebrate communities from management of these invasive mammals in New Zealand forest systems. The present study examined the response of land snail communities to intensive management of ship and Norway rats by sampling paired rainforest blocks, one block of which had been subject to intensive management of rats, while the other block had been without management of invasive rats and thus subject to ambient rodent infestations.
In New Zealand, aerial poisoning with 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) bait is widely used for control of introduced small mammal pests in remote or forested areas. However this practice is controversial, partly because of perceived risks to native fauna, particularly birds. That perception originally derives from substantial mortality of some native bird species in pre-1980 control operations, which prompted changes in baiting practice to mitigate most of the risk.
Invasive rats can be capable swimmers, able to cross substantial water channels of hundreds of metres to colonise islands. This dispersal capability puts at risk islands close enough to infested areas for rats to reach unassisted. When reinvasion rates are high, biosecurity surveillance on islands might be supported by source population control to prevent re-establishment. However, biosecurity surveillance can only detect reinvading rats when they arrive and the source of reinvading rats might remain unknown.
One of the criteria for an effective bird repellent in a pest management context in New Zealand is that possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and ship rat (Rattus rattus) kills remain high where repellents are used in poison baits. Repellents were used in baits applied within different treatment blocks as part of a large aerial 1080 operation in November 2013 near Haast on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.
Aerial poisoning with cereal bait containing 1080 toxin is known to pose a risk to the kea (Nestor notabilis), an endemic New Zealand mountain parrot. For a bird repellent to protect kea during such poisoning operations, it must be effective in bait for 4–12 weeks after the bait is manufactured, as this is when most aerial 1080 cereal operations take place. Two bird repellents have been shown to be effective with captive kea, d-pulegone and 9,10-anthraquinone.
Substantial areas of alpine tall tussock grasslands are being retired from grazing as part of Crown pastoral lease tenure review because of the perceived negative impact of grazing livestock. However, relatively little is known about the effect of sheep exclusion on these grasslands. We analysed data from five grazing exclosure plots over a 6-year period to examine the effect merino sheep have relative to hares and rabbits in alpine tall tussock grasslands used for summer grazing.
It is important, yet hard, to assess how much of the full range of New Zealand’s terrestrial natural ecosystems and biodiversity remains, and is protected from loss. Updated spatial datasets of land cover and protection allow a nation-wide consistent assessment of the loss and protection context of indigenous biodiversity components.
Long-term population monitoring has become an important tool for conservation management and indicator of environmental change. In many species nest counts are used as an index of population numbers. A pilot study using double-counts in Fiordland crested penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) found that up to 12% of nests had failed following the first count, raising concerns about search-related disturbance effects and the reliability of long-term monitoring data.
Restoration of urban forest remnants is an increasing activity worldwide, but the effects of restoration efforts on local wildlife in urban remnants remain poorly understood. Understanding the benefits of restoration can also be confounded because of difficulties in monitoring the abundance of representative species, or understanding their ecological requirements.
Monitoring is important in conservation management, essential for assessing population trends, making decisions and allocating resources. Artificial retreats can offer a reliable, low impact and efficient method for monitoring cryptic herpetofauna. Methods for monitoring artificial retreats vary between different conservation management programmes in New Zealand, however, and a deeper understanding of the causes of these variations would encourage greater standardisation and enable more reliable comparisons to be made across temporal and spatial scales.