Conservation programmes in New Zealand often suppress populations of a single invasive predator for the benefit of threatened avifauna. However, the establishment of whole guilds of invasive species has created complex competitor and predator-prey relationships, including some well-described trophic cascades. Trap networks designed to target stoats (Mustela erminea) are poorly optimised to supress a population of weasels (M. nivalis), and may contribute to periodic spikes in weasel numbers due to decreased interspecific competition and aggression.
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.