Wildlife & Wild Places

50 Years Reversing the Effects of Invasive Rodents

In 2014 New Zealand celebrated fifty years eradicating rodents from islands. A symposium was held at the University of Auckland to celebrate this milestone and podcasts of the talks are available online. Following on from that symposium the latest issue of the New Zealand Journal of Ecology documents how in fifty years the effects of invasive rodents have been undone, along with some of the current exciting advances in rodent ecology and management. This special issue was edited by myself in association with the Department of Conservation Island Eradication Advisory Group leader Keith Broome.

Big South Cape invasion and extinction pictorialised on the cover of the latest issue of NZ Journal of Ecology (Cover art by Liz Grant).

The special issue opens with a paper documenting the advances of the last decade in rodent eradications. Rowley Taylor then presents some of his earliest recollections of rodent studies in New Zealand since World War II. There are then three exciting papers documenting different aspects of the rodents of Big South Cape Island which invaded in 1964 and drove three native species to global extinction. David Towns from the Department of Conservation describes the restoration of the Mercury Islands, while Imogen Bassett from Auckland Council outlines the Treasure Islands program, both in the Hauraki Gulf of Auckland. The special issue finishes with a description of the challenges involved in clearing pests from subantarctic Macquarie Island. Overall the special issue places a marker pole in the ground for what fifty years of focused conservation dedication can achieve, and serves as motivation for what might be achieved in the next fifty years.

Coincidentally, this special issue also coincides with my 50th post on National Geographic Voices. Thanks for reading everyone, and watch for posts from next week as I return on expedition to South America and Fernando de Noronha.

Conservation biologist Dr. James Russell works throughout the world on remote islands and other sites to provide conservation solutions by applying a combination of scientific methods. Follow James on National Geographic voices for regular updates on his own work or other exciting developments in island conservation.

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