How do you monitor invasive rats in high conservation priority coastal bird colonies?
That was the challenge for Anthony when he started his honours project in Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Deakin University. Traditional approaches such as trapping had the potential to have significant impacts upon little penguins, and as such he needed to develop a non-invasive way of monitoring rats. Monitoring rats has been a significant problem in bird colonies, yet rats have been involved globally in the local extinctions of many bird species.
Anthony went on to develop and test a camera trapping approach that could be used on Phillip island in amongst bird colonies. This ended up being a massive effort because the rats loved coming to the lures. Ultimately, Anthony needed to process 186,501 photos!! There were times when as many as five rats came to the camera at the same time to have family photos taken.
The hard work has paid off! Anthony’s paper was published yesterday in PLOS ONE, a major international journal. It is not only great to see the research of an honours student making it onto the international stage, but also producing highly practical approaches for conservation biology situations.
You can read Anthony’s paper at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0086592
A big congratulations from all of us in the Wildlife and Conservation Biology team at Deakin University. Also a massive thank you to Duncan Sutherland and the team at Phillip Island Nature Park for the amazing help and support of this project.