The spatial distribution of rodent damage in Australian macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) orchards

Whitehouse, Matthew, Eldridge, James Vincent, Elmouttie, David, & Hamilton, Grant (2012) The spatial distribution of rodent damage in Australian macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) orchards. Australian Journal of Crop Science, pp. 1423-1427.

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The Black Rat (Rattus rattus), a global pest within the macadamia production industry, causes up to 30% crop damage in Australian orchards. During early stages of production in Australia, research demonstrated the importance of non crop adjacent habitats as significant in affecting the patterns of crop damage seen throughout orchards. Where once rodent damage was limited to the outside edges of orchard blocks, growers are now reporting finding crop damage throughout entire orchards. This study therefore aims to explore the spatial patterns of rodent distribution and damage now occurring in Australian macadamia orchards.

We show that rodent damage and rodent distribution in these newer production regions differ from that shown in previous Australian research. Previous Australian research has shown damage patterns which were associated with the edges of orchard blocks however this study demonstrates a more widespread damage distribution. In the current study there is no relationship between rodent damage and the orchard edge. Arboreal rodent nests were identified within these newer orchard systems, suggesting rodents are residing within the tree component of the orchard system and not dependent on adjacent non-crop habitat for shelter.

Results from this study confirm that rodents have modified their nesting and foraging behaviour in newer orchards systems in Australia. We suggest that this is a response of increased and prolonged availability of macadamia nuts in newer production regions enabling populations to be maintained throughout the year. Management strategies will require modification if control is to be achieved.

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ID Code: 53341
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Rattus rattus; Black Rat; spatial damage distribution; arboreal nests; rodent management
ISSN: 1835-2707
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 > AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES (070000) > HORTICULTURAL PRODUCTION (070600) > Horticultural Crop Protection (Pests Diseases and Weeds) (070603)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The Authors
Deposited On: 27 Aug 2012 22:25
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2012 10:17

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