Using genetics and Bayesian modelling to evaluate the eradication of stoats (Mustela erminea) from Resolution Island, Fiordland, New Zealand
- Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand
The New Zealand Department of Conservation recently (May 2008) began a programme to eradicate stoats (Mustela erminea) from Resolution Island (Fiordland, New Zealand) using kill traps. In conjunction with this eradication effort we have the following 3 objectives: (1) to measure the population abundance of stoats prior to trapping using hair tubes and forensic DNA methods; (2) optimise techniques for detecting individual stoats, in order to quantify the probability of stoat persistence given no detections after several months of trapping; and (3) use genetic analyses to identify the possible origins (mainland incursions or in situ breeding) of new stoats captured in a control zone. We present Bayesian modelling techniques used to determine the probability of stoat persistence on the island after the initial population reduction, when individual stoats are no longer captured in traps. We also provide details on an effective level of monitoring and trapping effort required to maintain a comfortable level of confidence that stoats no longer persist on the island. Improving these techniques adds to variety of valuable tools for management of invasive mammal species in a range of natural environments worldwide.