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.
Ship rats (Rattus rattus) were removed from sites on Pearl Island, southern Stewart Island, in 2004 and 2005, to test whether they excluded Pacific rats (R. exulans) or Norway rats (R. norvegicus) or both from podocarp-broadleaf forest. As predators can influence habitat use in rodents, Pearl Island was selected because no mammalian predators of rodents are present. Rats were trapped in two other habitats to clarify rat distribution on the island and to obtain samples for stable isotope investigation of food partitioning within habitats.
The relative abundance of ship rats (Rattus rattus), Norway rats (R. norvegicus), and Pacific rats (R. exulans), was measured in four vegetation types on Stewart Island/Rakiura, over six consecutive seasons. Ship rats were found in all four vegetation types and dominated in podocarp-broadleaf forest and riparian shrubland. Norway rats were most common in subalpine shrubland and Pacific rats dominated in manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) shrubland. Analysis of micro-habitat affinities for the three species showed that ship rats were habitat generalists.
Introduced rodents and possums in New Zealand eat flowers, fruits, seeds and seedlings, but little is known about their impact on forest regeneration. We investigated seedling establishment in exclosures with mesh of two different sizes to exclude (1) possums and (2) possums and rats, at two mainland forest sites (beechpodocarpbroadleaved and second-growth broadleavedpodocarp) near Dunedin. We recorded all new woody seedlings that established over the next 2 years.
Feral cats became established on Raoul Island some time between 1836 and 1872; the prey available to them included a great variety of nesting seabirds, few of which are present now, landbirds and kiore (Rattus exulans). Norway rats reached the island in 1921, providing additional prey for cats, but also another potential predator of seabirds. The diet of cats is described from guts and scats collected between 1972 and 1980. Rats are the main food, with land birds second in importance, and seabirds are now a minor item.
Norway rats were eradicated on bush-covered Hawea Island (9 ha) in Breaksea Sound, using the anticoagulant rodenticide "Talon 50 WB" (brodifacoum). The work was done as a conservation measure and to evaluate the feasibility and costs of eradicating rodents quickly from islands. The 50-100 rats present were eradicated in about two weeks by applying a simple strategy that took full account of the characteristics of the poison, he environment, and the behaviour of the target species.