, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 105-114,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 17 Aug 2012

Control of invasive American bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus in small shallow water bodies

Abstract

Setting up cost-efficient control programs for alien invasive species requires the development of adequate removal methods in combination with insights in population size and dynamics. American bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus is an alien invasive species, which is suspected to cause substantial ecological damage around the globe. However, control of bullfrog populations is difficult, as no conclusive management measures have yet been determined. We investigated how double fyke nets could contribute to bullfrog management by assessing the tadpole population size in 10 permanent small shallow water bodies. Two population size estimate methods were applied, being the catch–depletion and mark–recapture method. Catchability of bullfrog tadpoles proved to be very consistent over ponds and methods, with one catch per unit of effort (one double fyke net for 24 h) retaining on average 6 % of the tadpole population. Population density varied considerably among ponds, ranging from 950 to 120,804 larger tadpole individuals/ha. Using these insights in developing a cost-efficient eradication program for the species, we projected the number of catch efforts needed to reduce tadpole numbers to a threshold that more than likely affects final bullfrog population size. Predictions indicated that for the specified thresholds the use of eight double fyke nets at a time is most cost-efficient in high abundance populations, while using five double fyke nets seems most suitable in low abundance populations. What the exact threshold number of remaining tadpole individuals should be is uncertain, but forecasts demonstrate that only half of the budget would be needed when aiming at a drop to fewer than 100 remaining tadpoles than when a decrease to fewer than 10 remaining tadpoles is pursued. Given the fairly limited cost of bullfrog management with double fyke nets, however, it may be worthwhile to fully reduce the tadpole population.

Communicated by C. Gortazar