Antipodes Island One Step Closer

Antipodes Island is one step closer to being mouse-free after the first bait-drop across the entire island was completed in record time. Department of Conservation staff arrived on the island on 27th May and the first drop was completed by 29th June. This is fantastic for an island at the border of the roaring forties and furious fifties latitudes, where good mid-winter weather is hard to come by. In a similarly timed National Geographic funded expedition in winter 2013 doing baseline studies in anticipation of the eradication, calm sunny days as required for flying helicopters occurred only once a fortnight.

Meanwhile staff on the island have also been collecting pitfall trapping data for invertebrates in different habitats across the island. These data will allow a comparison of invertebrate density and species composition before and eventually after the eradication, to monitor the recovery of the island ecosystem following mouse eradication. Although the recovery of vertebrates such as seabirds is well documented after eradications, much less is known about invertebrate recovery, and especially for mouse-only eradications.

Antipodes Island first bait drop completed 29/06/16 (Image by DOC)

With the down-time of two weeks between bait drops the staff have been engaged in productive activities such as celebrating mid-winter solstice, and counting chorizo sausages. Then the action ramps up again with the island receiving a second baiting to guarantee all mice are killed, as nothing less than 100% is success. Then it becomes a waiting game for two years in order to confirm the eradication was successful with no mice detected over that time.

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Meet the Author
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.