Changing Planet

Optimizing Rapid Eradication Assessment

Biological invasions can happen quickly and the best response is a rapidly confirmed eradication. Models combining data on the population dynamics of the invasive species with a given level of monitoring effort allow managers to quantify the probability that eradication has successfully been achieved. This approach is particularly useful on islands where invasive species eradication is now a standard conservation tool, and managers want to move on quickly to the next project rather than wait, for example, two years to detect survivors. A method for confirming rat eradication on islands was developed a few years ago and in a companion paper published in the Journal of Applied Ecology we simulate the method under various scenarios to recommend to managers what the optimal monitoring timing and efforts are to maximise the probability of rapidly confirming eradication success.

Mouse with radio-transmitter from Island of the Dead, Mexico (Source: GECI)

The study also provides real-world examples from the Mexican “Island of the Dead” (Isla Muertos), where mice were eradicated in 2011 and the eradication rapidly confirmed in the same trip. This saved managers 5% of costs from the expensive eradication project, particularly because they didn’t have to visit the island again in the future to confirm eradication. The new rapid eradication assessment (REA) software is available at for eradication managers to upload their own datasets to optimise their own monitoring, or simply for people curious to play, e.g. with the example mice dataset from Isla Muertos.

Masked boobies on Isla Muertos
Masked boobies on Island of the Dead (Source: GECI)

The New Zealand government recently announced a committment to PFNZ2050, and technical advances such as this will become increasingly important as part of achieving that Predator Free New Zealand.

Read All Posts by James Russell

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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