Avoiding surprise effects on Surprise Island: alien species control in a multitrophic level perspective
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- Caut, S., Angulo, E. & Courchamp, F. Biol Invasions (2009) 11: 1689. doi:10.1007/s10530-008-9397-9
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Eradications of invasive alien species have generally benefited biodiversity. However, without sufficient planning, successful eradications can have unexpected and unwanted consequences for native species and ecosystems. In particular, the “surprise effect” is the rapid increase of hitherto unnoticed species following the sudden removal of an invasive alien that was exerting an ecological force on those species (predation, competition or herbivory, for example). The only way to prevent these undesired outcomes is to adapt the control programme following the characterization of the trophic relationships between the invasive alien species and the invaded communities, that is, to view the control with a holistic perspective. Here, we illustrate this point with the study of the role of the ship rat (Rattus rattus), which invaded a tropical pacific atoll, Surprise Island, New Caledonia. We assessed the risk of surprise effects during a pre-eradication phase of several years, and then adapted our eradication strategy accordingly.