Inventory and monitoring of biodiversity requires effective sampling tools. Footprint tracking tunnels, developed in New Zealand to monitor small mammals, may also be useful for sampling lizards and other reptiles but more research is needed to verify this. We compared the detectability of terrestrial skinks using two methods: pitfall trapping and footprint tracking. In New Zealand, the former is the traditional method for sampling skinks, while the latter is routinely used to monitor populations of introduced rodents and mustelids.
Comparisons were made of density indices of free-living populations of ship rats (Rattus rattus) in mixed forest in New Zealand by using footprint tracking tunnels and two kill-trapping methods. Tracking tunnels and snap-trap removal indices of rat densities showed similar trends when run on a 9 ha trapping grid, although immigration onto the grid occurred, thus violating one of the assumptions of the analysis.
Artificial nests and tracking tunnels are alternative predator encounter devices that can be used to predict predation risk to native species. Tracking tunnels are used ubiquitously in New Zealand, whereas artificial nests are used extensively overseas. To assess whether these devices give similar information about predation risk, we compared tracking tunnel and artificial nest data from 16 native forest fragments in the central North Island over two summers.
Invasive rodents pose a grave and persistent threat to New Zealand’s native biodiversity. Rodent eradication is a successful conservation tool on islands. However, eradications may fail, and there is always potential for reinvasion. It is therefore essential that effective systems are in place for the early detection of rodents in the case of eradication failure or reincursion.
The diet of 871 stoats (Mustela erminea) caught within the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, South Westland, New Zealand, between 2001 and 2004 was studied by assessment of gut contents. Stoat and ship rat (Rattus rattus) captures were used as a measure of relative abundance over time, and rat and mouse (Mus musculus) abundance was indexed using tracking tunnels between spring 2002 and winter 2004. There were major increases in rat captures in spring of 2002 and again in spring of 2003. Stoat captures peaked in the following summers, as rat captures declined.