Deceased July 2001.
Comparing strategies for controlling an African pest rodent: an empirically based theoretical study
Article first published online: 12 JAN 2002
Journal of Applied Ecology
Volume 38, Issue 5, pages 1020–1031, October 2001
How to Cite
Stenseth, N. Chr., Leirs, H., Mercelis, S. and Mwanjabe, P. (2001), Comparing strategies for controlling an African pest rodent: an empirically based theoretical study. Journal of Applied Ecology, 38: 1020–1031. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2664.2001.00656.x
- Issue published online: 12 JAN 2002
- Article first published online: 12 JAN 2002
- fertility suppression;
- Leslie-type population model;
- Mastomys natalensis;
- pest control;
- tropical rodents
- 1Small rodents in general and the multimammate rat Mastomys natalensis in particular cause major economic losses in Africa through damage to crops. Attempts to develop dynamic population models for this and other pest rodents are ongoing.
- 2Demographic estimates from a capture–mark–recapture (CMR) study in Tanzania were used to parameterize a population model for this species. This model incorporated three functional age categories (juveniles, subadults and adults) of both sexes and used density-dependent and density-independent factors, the latter represented by rainfall.
- 3The model was used to analyse the effect of rodent control on the population dynamics and resulting number of rats. Control measures affecting survival as well as reproduction were considered.
- 4The model showed that control measures reducing survival will only have long-term effects on population size if they are also applied when rodent densities are low. Control measures applied only when rodent densities are high will not have persistent effects, even at high mortality rates.
- 5The model demonstrated that control measures reducing reproduction are likely to prevent Mastomys outbreaks, but will keep densities low over a long period only when the contraceptive effect is strong (> 75% reduction).
- 6Provided that CMR data are available, we recommend developing Leslie-type population models for rodent pests on the basis of CMR-estimated demographic schedules. Such models have great potential in rodent management and allow the evaluation of different strategies.
- 7Besides improving the ecological basis of the population modelling, economic considerations need to be incorporated into decisions about rodent control. We suggest that appropriate population models will provide important input into such decision making.