Predictive modelling to aid the regional-scale management of a vertebrate pest

Murray, Justine V. and Berman, David McK. and van Klinken, Rieks D. (2014) Predictive modelling to aid the regional-scale management of a vertebrate pest. Biological Invasions, 16 (11). pp. 2403-2425. ISSN 1387-3547


Extensive resources are allocated to managing vertebrate pests, yet spatial understanding of pest threats, and how they respond to management, is limited at the regional scale where much decision- making is undertaken. We provide regional-scale spatial models and management guidance for Euro- pean rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in a 260,791 km2 region in Australia by determining habitat suitability, habitat susceptibility and the effects of the primary rabbit management options (barrier fence, shooting and baiting and warren ripping) or changing predation or disease control levels. A participatory modelling approach was used to develop a Bayesian network which captured the main drivers of suitability and spread, which in turn was linked spatially to develop high resolution risk maps. Policy-makers, rabbit managers and technical experts were responsible for defining the questions the model needed to address, and for subsequently developing and the model. Habitat suitability was determined by conditions required for warren-building and by above-ground requirements, such as food and harbour, and habitat susceptibility by the distance from current distributions, habitat suitability, and the costs of traversing habitats of different quality. At least one-third of the region had a high probability of being highly suitable (support high rabbit densities), with the model supported by validation. Habitat susceptibility was largely restricted by the current known rabbit distribution. Warren ripping was the most effective control option as warrens were considered essential for rabbit persistence. The anticipated increase in disease resistance was predicted to increase the probability of moderately suitable habitat becoming highly suitable, but not increase the at-risk area. We demonstrate that it is possible to build spatial models to guide regional-level management of vertebrate pests which use the best available knowledge and capture fine spatial-scale processes.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2018 03:13
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2018 02:58
Uncontrolled Keywords: European rabbit, Bayesian networks, habitat suitability, susceptibility, warren ripping, predators, disease, cost-distance
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960499 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1007/s10530-014-0673-6

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