The biology of the grassland Melomys (Melomys burtoni) (Rodentia: Muridae) in far north Queensland sugarcane crops

Dyer, Brendan Charles (2007) The biology of the grassland Melomys (Melomys burtoni) (Rodentia: Muridae) in far north Queensland sugarcane crops. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Melomys burtoni and M. cervinipes naturally occur in habitats adjacent to sugarcane crops in north Queensland, have been trapped within sugarcane crops, and are potentially damaging to sugarcane crops. However, little is known about their biology and pest status in sugarcane crops and this information is needed by the industry for the development of a sustainable pest management programme for these rodents. Field studies were undertaken between Tully and Innisfail in far north Queensland, to determine the extent to which either or both Melomys species inhabit sugarcane crops and to examine the biology of Melomys within the crop. Field diagnostic approaches were developed which, when blind tested using molecular techniques, proved 100% accurate in-field discrimination of the two Melomys species. Based on field trapping, M. cervinipes proved to be rare in sugarcane and should not be regarded as a pest by the industry. In contrast, M. burtoni were recorded in significant numbers within cane, were found to feed on cane and, in crop stage 5 (canopy closure to harvest) were responsible for damage to ~5% of stalks. Melomys burtoni were found to colonise sugarcane at the later stages of crop development than the other major sugarcane rodent, Rattus sordidus. The highest proportion of M. burtoni reproduction and juvenile recruitment also occurs in the later stages of crop development. The late colonisation of the crop by M. burtoni means that the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy already in place for R. sordidus is not directly transferable to M. burtoni. If an effective IPM strategy is to be developed, further research is required to examine the population dynamics and dispersal of M. burtoni populations between the crop and the adjacent habitats within the sugarcane production system of far north Queensland.

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ID Code: 16567
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Clarke, Anthony & Fuller, Susan
Keywords: grassland Melomys, Melomys burtoni, sugarcane crops, pests, Queensland
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Department: Faculty of Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Brendan Charles Dyer
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:06
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 14:40

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