The alpine zone of New Zealand covers c. 30% of public conservation land and is home to a high diversity of endemic species. Predation by introduced stoats (Mustela erminea) is identified as a major threat to alpine fauna. However, a lack of biological information, such as what stoats eat in different settings, hinders efforts to focus control measures in time and space in order to achieve the greatest conservation gains. We used a biochemical tool, stable isotope analysis, to estimate stoat diet across three time-periods in the alpine zone of three national parks.
The endemic fauna of New Zealand evolved in the absence of mammalian predators and their introduction has been devastating. Large-scale aerial applications of cereal baits containing sodium fluoroacetate (1080) are routinely used to control these pests. During one such operation in the Blue Mountains, West Otago, trail cameras were used to monitor the impact of the application on mammalian predators.
Invasive predators are a threat to biodiversity in New Zealand. However, they are often difficult to monitor because of the animals’ cryptic, mobile behaviour and low densities. Camera traps are increasingly being used to monitor wildlife, but until recently have been used mainly for large species. We aimed to determine the optimal camera alignment (horizontal or vertical) for detecting feral cats (Felis catus) and mustelids (Mustela furo, M. erminea and M. nivalis). We deployed 20 pairs of cameras, each pair with one horizontal and one vertical camera.
Studies of waterfowl productivity at the Pukepuke Lagoon Wildlife Management Reserve have shown high mortality amongst young ducklings. This has been found in other studies in which it has often been attributed to predation. (Evans and Wolfe 1967, Balser et al. 1968, Urban 1970, Schranck 1972). Areas of pasture, cut-over pine forest, and dunes outside the reserve were also included in the trapping area.
There are currently many attempts in New Zealand to restore native ecosystem functioning through the intensive control of introduced mammalian predators. One system that is faltering is bird pollination of endemic mistletoes (Peraxilla tetrapetala) by bellbirds (Anthornis melanura), apparently because of stoat (Mustela erminea) predation. We used a paired-catchment experiment in Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides forest at Craigieburn, central South Island, to measure whether stoat control could restore bellbird densities and mistletoe pollination.
Artificial barriers, such as nest boxes and metal collars, are sometimes used, with variable success, to exclude predators and/or competitors from tree nests of vulnerable bird species. This paper describes the observed response of captive stoats (Mustela erminea) to a nest box design and an aluminium sheet collar used to protect kaka (Nestor meridionalis) nest cavities. The nest box, a prototype for kaka, was manufactured from PVC pipe. Initial trials failed to exclude stoats until an overhanging roof was added. All subsequent trials successfully prevented access by stoats.
A single five night pulse of sodium monofluroacetate (0.15% 1080) applied in bait stations at two different spacing intervals, 100 and 200 m, along forestry roads in New Zealand beech forest, killed all four of the resident radio-tagged stoats (Mustela erminea) and all three of the resident radio- tagged wild house cats (Felis catus) by secondary poisoning. Gut contents of predators indicated that house mice (Mus musculus), ship rats (Rattus rattus) and bushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) were important sources of the toxin.
Stoat (Mustela erminea) density was estimated by live-trapping in a South Island Nothofagus forest, New Zealand, at 8-9 (Jan/Feb 1996) and 15-16 (Aug/Sep 1996) month intervals after significant beech seedfall in autumn 1995. Absolute densities were 4.2 stoats per km² (2.9-7.7 stoats per km², 95% confidence intervals) in Jan;Feb 1996 and 2.5 stoats per km² (2.1-3.5 stoats per km²) in Aug/Sep 1996. Trappability of stoats increased in the latter sampling period, probably because mice (Mus musculus) had become extremely scarce.
Populations of four species of carnivores were sampled over the five years 1983-87 at Pureora Forest Park, by regular three- monthly Fenn trap index lines supplemented with occasional control campaigns by shooting and additional traps. Stoats were the most frequently collected (63 captures), followed by weasels (18), cats (15) and ferrets (13). Stoats ranged throughout the mosaic of forest types but especially the older exotic blocks, hunting rabbits, rats, possums and birds. The mean age of 55 stoats trapped was 15 months, and their maximum life span about 5 years.
We studied the ecology of a high-density population of stoats in Fiordland, New Zealand, in the summer and autumn of 1990-91 following a Nothofagus seeding in 1990. Results are compared with findings from the same area in 1991-92, a period of lower stoat density. In the high-density year, minimum home ranges (revealed by radio-tracking) of four females averaged 69 ha and those of three males 93 ha; range lengths averaged 1.3 km and 2.5 km respectively. Neither difference was statistically significant.