Challenges in confirming eradication success of invasive red-eared sliders
Confirming eradication success can be notoriously difficult and costly, especially when the species is still present but remains undetected, due to very low population densities and imperfect detection methods. There has been a lack of research on appropriate guidelines and estimation procedures for declaring eradication success for programs aimed at eradicating alien reptiles. Here we develop quantitative rules for confirmation monitoring in eradication campaigns of the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). We used a database of slider trapping data from control and eradication campaigns conducted in localities across the Iberian Peninsula and southern France to construct models for inferring appropriate trapping efforts for confirming slider turtle eradication. Basking traps were slightly more efficient than net traps in capturing sliders, although trapping was an inefficient monitoring method given the low capture probabilities estimated. The results of our spatially-explicit eradication scenarios revealed the importance of habitat configuration in declaring eradication success. Declaration of eradication success is contingent on the thresholds set to minimise false positives (i.e., falsely declaring eradication successful), but in any scenario large trapping efforts were required to confirm eradication. Given the low estimated capture probabilities, alternative methods such as eDNA and visual surveys should be considered for monitoring sliders. We suggest that if the costs associated with the impact of alien sliders can be adequately estimated, then eradication can be confirmed by rules minimising both false positive and negative error rates. Otherwise, rules minimising false positive errors would be more appropriate.