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Habitat manipulation and rodent damage control: reducing rodent damage in Australian macadamia orchards
conference contributionposted on 2003-01-01, 00:00 authored by John WhiteJohn White, J Wilson, K Horskins
This paper examines the relationship between adjacent non-crop vegetation and rodent (Rattus rattus) damage in Australian macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) orchard systems. Orchards adjacent to structurally diverse, non-crop vegetation dominated by woody weeds exhibited significantly higher damage when compared to orchards adjacent to managed grasslands. This relationship formed the basis for a rodent damage reduction strategy utilising habitat manipulation. Structurally diverse, non-crop habitats were modified to grasslands leading to a reduction in rodent damage of 65%. This strategy was cost-effective and has the potential to be long-term with minimal effort needed to maintain sites in a modified state. Habitat manipulation is a process whereby the resource load in a system is reduced and hence rodent densities cannot reach levels where they cause significant crop damage. This paper provides empirical evidence to support habitat manipulation as a practical, cost-effective control strategy for rodent pests.