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How to prioritize rat management for the benefit of petrels: a case study of the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man




Rats have been introduced to islands throughout the world. They have caused breeding failures, population declines and complete extirpation of vulnerable bird species. Such impacts can be difficult to diagnose in situations where extirpation occurred prior to the vulnerable species being recorded. Mitigating the impacts of rats on seabirds depends on quarantine measures for islands where rats are currently absent, and eradication or control campaigns on those where they are present. These measures can be challenging in terms of both costs and practicalities, and so can seldom be applied to all islands within a given region. Hence a prioritization exercise is often required to identify those islands where management would be most cost-effective. In this review we present a case study of rat management in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. We review rat management for the study area to date and present a simple scoring approach to prioritize islands for eradication campaigns, including those where the procellariiform priority species are currently absent. We recommend further research into rat management for the study area and on the applicability of this approach elsewhere in the world.