Researchers from the University of Auckland Department of Statistics and School of Biological Sciences have developed a new online tool for rapidly confirming when pests have been successfully eradicated from an area, in association with Landcare Research and Mexican partners GECI (Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas). Users input basic population dynamic parameters for the pest species, such as how far individuals can move, how likely they are to be detected, and what level of effort will be put in to monitoring. The software calculates how likely it is pests have been eradicated from the area if none are detected.
Study collaborator Dr. James Russell says “With new bold visions to eradicate introduced predators from the entirety of New Zealand by 2050, and all of its offshore islands along the way, managers need cutting-edge scientific tools to enable them to confirm eradication as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next project”.
The software also allows users to simulate different monitoring scenarios which would maximise the confidence in confirming eradication success, e.g. over 95%. By playing with real data from the Mexican ‘Island of the Dead’ (Isla Muertos), they can calculate the probability that all the mice eradicated on the island in 2011 really are dead.
“The original idea came from Landcare scientists, so GECI teamed up with them to develop a tool to speed-up our island eradication projects in Mexico. We've been testing novel management approaches so we needed to know if we were on the right track sooner rather than later. After eight successful projects, I'm very happy with the software”, says Dr. Araceli Samaniego-Herrera from GECI who originally developed the tool as part of her PhD at the University of Auckland.
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