Invasive rodents are a problem for oceanic islands throughout the world. Rats transported by sea-faring humans from landmass to landmass plague ecosystems off the coast of Australia and in the Hawaiian and Galápagos Islands. Rats can endanger native species, damage agriculture crops and even prevent trees from re-growing. Efforts to remove the invasive species, however, sometimes result in their own unintended consequences.
“You can’t just remove 70 percent or 90 percent,” said Julia Ponder, D.V.M., executive director of The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. “You have to remove 100 percent of the invasive species, and that’s what makes it so hard. There’s no margin of error and eradication efforts are expensive.”
Eradication efforts can put other species such as birds at risk, too.
That’s why Ponder became involved in research recently published in the journal Biological Conservation.