, Volume 36, Issue 12, pp 1791-1797
Date: 29 Aug 2013

Winter ecology of house mice and the prospects for their eradication from Steeple Jason (Falkland Islands)

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Abstract

Invasive house mice Mus musculus are known to impact on seabird, invertebrate and plant communities on temperate and subantarctic islands, particularly where they are the sole rodent species. Steeple Jason, in the Falkland Islands, is an island which supports globally important seabird populations as well as introduced mice. To evaluate the prospects for mouse eradication, we investigated mouse ecology and undertook bait uptake trials on Steeple Jason in late winter. Mice were present in all habitats but were most abundant in tussac Poa flabellata where they occurred at 20–35 mice ha−1. From 58 mature perforate females, 16 % were pregnant, with litters of 4–8 pups. The first lactating female was caught at the end of August, suggesting that breeding had recently begun. Bait trials replicating an aerial eradication were undertaken on two trapping grids of 7.7 and 6.8 ha, with non-toxic pellets containing the biomarker pyranine spread at 7.5–7.7 kg ha−1. All 447 mice captured after baiting had consumed bait. The relatively low winter density, distribution and biology of house mice on Steeple Jason are similar to those observed before other successful mice eradications, and the study indicated 100 % bait acceptance. Before an eradication attempt, we suggest investigating whether breeding ceases completely earlier in the winter and urge careful consideration of non-target species.