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RATS! Rachel Fewster Steven Miller James Russell Hamish MacInnes Department of Statistics University of Auckland.

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Presentation on theme: "RATS! Rachel Fewster Steven Miller James Russell Hamish MacInnes Department of Statistics University of Auckland."— Presentation transcript:

1 RATS! Rachel Fewster Steven Miller James Russell Hamish MacInnes Department of Statistics University of Auckland

2 Hauraki Gulf islands in the last year

3 Our aim is to understand rat movement & invasion, to protect sanctuary islands Our research at the University of Auckland: 1. Put a rat invader on an uninhabited island and study its behaviour 2. Use genetics to study current and historic movement between islands

4 1. Put a rat on an island and see what happens... Study led by Mick Clout (UoA) and Dave Towns (DoC) …with unsuspecting PhD student James Russell… Controlled releases of lone rats on small islands

5 Rangitoto Noises Islands 1. Put a rat on an island and see what happens... Motutapu

6 1. Put a rat on an island and see what happens... Noises Islands Rat ‘Razza’ released on Motuhoropapa After a month, tried to catch him again...

7 1. Put a rat on an island and see what happens... Noises Islands Razza dropped his tag and swam 400m to Otata... James caught up with him two months later, but by boat...

8 Bad news for us, but 100 newspapers worldwide loved the story... New York Times Oct 2005

9 … and Razza still lives on!

10 Closely related rats mean lots of swimmers. Unrelated rats mean isolation. Our research at the University of Auckland: 2. Use genetics to see how much movement there is between different islands

11 What do genetics look like?

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13 Fitzroy Motu Kaikoura Fitzroy region, Aotea / Great Barrier Island

14 Fitzroy Motu Kaikoura Genetic results Look for: Overlap: closely related populations Separation: isolated populations Each point is one rat; Each colour is a different island

15 Fit Kai Nel Haku

16 Fit Kai Nel Haku Look for: Overlap: closely related populations Separation: isolated populations

17 Clear left-right divide: is something stopping the rats from swimming this small gap?

18 Cliffs at the landing points? Or rat sociology?

19 Mainland Kaikoura region Broken Islands

20 Broken Islands Results Lots of overlap between Rangiahua and Mahuki Motutaiko separate

21 Broken Islands Results Lots of overlap between Rangiahua and Mahuki Motutaiko separate Real separation between islands and mainland One rat caught on the mainland appears to have come from the islands

22 We see this pattern all over New Zealand: No gap in genetics over 10s of km of mainland

23 We see this pattern all over New Zealand: Then a short water crossing…

24 We see this pattern all over New Zealand: … and a clear gap.

25 We see this pattern all over New Zealand: Ship Rats!

26 Reinvasion or failed eradication? All three species of rats were eradicated from Pearl Island in July 2005: Pearl Island, off Stewart Island By May 2006, there were 4 Norway rats and 1 ship rat back on the island… HOW DID THEY GET THERE?

27 Reinvasion or failed eradication? Survive the eradication? Reinvade from Stewart Island? HOW DID THEY GET THERE? Worst possible news! Better security needed

28 250m Reinvasion or failed eradication?

29 Norways are strong swimmers, but this far south…? 10 rats caught on Pearl Island after eradication, May-July rats caught on Pearl Island before the eradication (July 2005) 9 rats caught on adjacent Stewart Island Norway Rats Eradication planning Reinvasion response

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32 Post-eradication Norways all grouped with Stewart Island rats: phew!

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34 Ship rats are weaker swimmers, so did some survive the eradication? 1 rat caught on Pearl Island after eradication (May 2006) 11 rats caught on Pearl Island before the eradication (July 2005) 8 rats caught on adjacent Stewart Island Ship rats

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37 Once again, the ship rat is grouped with the Stewart Island rats: NOT a survivor! HOW DID THEY GET THERE? THEY SWAM! The genetic work showed DoC that their eradication procedures had not failed: all rats found on Pearl Island were reinvaders.

38 Conclusions Ship rats are weaker swimmers than Norways We see genetic separation even over small water crossings But we don’t know whether this is because they don’t swim, or don’t breed Norway rats are strong swimmers, luckily absent from Aotea

39 Thanks to our funders!


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