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Population dynamics of house mice in Queensland grain-growing areas

Pople, A and Scanlan, J and Cremasco, P and Farrell, J (2013) Population dynamics of house mice in Queensland grain-growing areas. Wildlife Research, 40 (8). pp. 661-674.

Full text not currently attached. Access may be available via the Publisher's website or OpenAccess link.

Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR13154

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WR13154.htm

Abstract

Context. Irregular plagues of house mice cause high production losses in grain crops in Australia. If plagues can be forecast through broad-scale monitoring or model-based prediction, then mice can be proactively controlled by poison baiting.

Aims. To predict mouse plagues in grain crops in Queensland and assess the value of broad-scale monitoring.
Methods. Regular trapping of mice at the same sites on the Darling Downs in southern Queensland has been undertaken
since 1974. This provides an index of abundance over time that can be related to rainfall, crop yield, winter temperature and past mouse abundance. Other sites have been trapped over a shorter time period elsewhere on the Darling Downs and in central Queensland, allowing a comparison of mouse population dynamics and cross-validation of models predicting mouse abundance.

Key results. On the regularly trapped 32-km transect on the Darling Downs, damaging mouse densities occur in 50% of
years and a plague in 25% of years, with no detectable increase in mean monthly mouse abundance over the past 35 years. High mouse abundance on this transect is not consistently matched by high abundance in the broader area. Annual maximum mouse abundance in autumn–winter can be predicted (R2 = 57%) from spring mouse abundance and autumn–winter rainfall in the previous year. In central Queensland, mouse dynamics contrast with those on the Darling Downs and lack the distinct annual cycle, with peak abundance occurring in any month outside early spring.Onaverage, damaging mouse densities occur
in 1 in 3 years and a plague occurs in 1 in 7 years. The dynamics of mouse populations on two transects ~70 km apart were rarely synchronous. Autumn–winter rainfall can indicate mouse abundance in some seasons (R2 = ~52%).

Conclusion. Early warning of mouse plague formation in Queensland grain crops from regional models should trigger
farm-based monitoring. This can be incorporated with rainfall into a simple model predicting future abundance that will determine any need for mouse control.
Implications. A model-based warning of a possible mouse plague can highlight the need for local monitoring of mouse
activity, which in turn could trigger poison baiting to prevent further mouse build-up.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Modelling > Animal
Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Animal control and ecology
Deposited On:27 May 2014 04:23
Last Modified:25 Aug 2014 23:36

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