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Summary The establishment of exotic species of vascular flora and vertebrate fauna on subantarctic Macquarie Island since its discovery in 1810 has resulted in major changes in the biota. A management programme aims to reduce the numbers of exotic plant and animal species and assist with the recovery of pre‐existing communities and processes. This paper reviews the integrated vertebrate pests management programme on Macquarie Island since 1974 and outlines future management considerations. As part of this programme, the responses of some native and exotic species of vascular flora and vertebrate fauna were monitored following control of European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) numbers. Changes in the vegetation recorded over 10 years showed that approximately half of all the vascular species had benefited from rabbit grazing, including several which formed a major part of the rabbit’s diet. After rabbit control, some adversely affected plants responded rapidly to a reduction in grazing pressure while others will require an almost total cessation of grazing in order to re‐establish their former distributions. With the decrease in rabbit numbers it was also necessary to control Feral Cats (Felis catus) due to their increased predation on native burrow‐nesting birds. Feral Cat predation on introduced fauna also increased, one result of which was the eradication from the island of the introduced Weka (Gallirallus australis scotti). Reduced rabbit grazing is leading to re‐establishment of the native Tall Tussock (Poa foliosa) grassland and with it the spread of the introduced Ship Rat (Rattus rattus). This review indicates that an integrated approach to pest management, with monitoring of the responses of both target and non‐target species, is the most effective way to restore pre‐existing communities and processes. Key words grazing pressure, introduced species, predation, recovery, vertebrate pest management.
Ecological Management & Restoration – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 2001
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