Improved design method for biosecurity surveillance and early detection of non-indigenous rats

Jarrad, Frith C., Barrett, Susan, Murray, Justine, Parkes, John, Stoklosa, Richard, Mengersen, Kerrie, & Whittle, Peter (2011) Improved design method for biosecurity surveillance and early detection of non-indigenous rats. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 35(2).

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A recent advance in biosecurity surveillance design aims to benefit island conservation through early and improved detection of incursions by non-indigenous species. The novel aspects of the design are that it achieves a specified power of detection in a cost-managed system, while acknowledging heterogeneity of risk in the study area and stratifying the area to target surveillance deployment. The design also utilises a variety of surveillance system components, such as formal scientific surveys, trapping methods, and incidental sightings by non-biologist observers. These advances in design were applied to black rats (Rattus rattus) representing the group of invasive rats including R. norvegicus, and R. exulans, which are potential threats to Barrow Island, Australia, a high value conservation nature reserve where a proposed liquefied natural gas development is a potential source of incursions. Rats are important to consider as they are prevalent invaders worldwide, difficult to detect early when present in low numbers, and able to spread and establish relatively quickly after arrival. The ‘exemplar’ design for the black rat is then applied in a manner that enables the detection of a range of non-indigenous species of rat that could potentially be introduced. Many of the design decisions were based on expert opinion as data gaps exist in empirical data. The surveillance system was able to take into account factors such as collateral effects on native species, the availability of limited resources on an offshore island, financial costs, demands on expertise and other logistical constraints. We demonstrate the flexibility and robustness of the surveillance system and discuss how it could be updated as empirical data are collected to supplement expert opinion and provide a basis for adaptive management. Overall, the surveillance system promotes an efficient use of resources while providing defined power to detect early rat incursions, translating to reduced environmental, resourcing and financial costs.

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ID Code: 40804
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Barrow Island, expert elicitation, invasive species, Rattus, statistical design
ISSN: 0110-6465
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS (050100) > Invasive Species Ecology (050103)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000) > ECOLOGY (060200) > Terrestrial Ecology (060208)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Mathematical Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 New Zealand Ecological Society.
Deposited On: 17 Mar 2011 23:43
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 14:33

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