Conditioned taste aversion reduces fox depredation on model eggs on beaches

Maguire, Grainne, Stojanovic, Dejan and Weston, Michael A. 2009, Conditioned taste aversion reduces fox depredation on model eggs on beaches, Wildlife research, vol. 36, no. 8, pp. 702-708, doi: 10.1071/WR09123.

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Title Conditioned taste aversion reduces fox depredation on model eggs on beaches
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Author(s) Maguire, Grainne
Stojanovic, Dejan
Weston, Michael A.ORCID iD for Weston, Michael A.
Journal name Wildlife research
Volume number 36
Issue number 8
Start page 702
End page 708
Total pages 7
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Place of publication Collingwood, Vic.
Publication date 2009
ISSN 1035-3712
Keyword(s) conditioned taste aversion
hooded plover
non-lethal predator control
Summary Context:  Conditioned taste aversion (CTA) is induced by an association of a food item with a negative experience, such as illness, which causes animals to avoid subsequent consumption of that particular food item. Inducing CTA may help reduce depredation rates of threatened fauna where predator population control is undesirable, impractical or unsuccessful.

:  We investigated whether CTA could be induced among foxes (Vulpes vulpes) to model eggs which mimicked those of the threatened hooded plover (Thinornis rubricollis).

Model eggs treated with a potential CTA-inducing chemical (sodium carbonate) and control eggs free of the agent were exposed to fox depredation for 28 days to simulate a hooded plover incubation period. To investigate whether CTA would persist in wild foxes, we implemented a part-time agent treatment (an initial 14 day exposure period of model eggs with the CTA agent followed by a second 14 day period when model eggs were free of the agent).

Key results:
  Similar intervals to the first depredation event were found for all model eggs regardless of treatment. After the first depredation event by foxes, the rate and likelihood of fox depredation was significantly lower in treated eggs than in control eggs. The likelihood or rate of depredation across the three treatments did not differ between the first and second periods.

Our results suggest that during an exposure period of at least 28 days, CTA can be induced in wild foxes to eggs on beaches. Our results also suggest that 14 days may be insufficient time for wild foxes to develop a lasting CTA to familiar food items such as eggs.

  Treatment of eggs with a CTA-inducing chemical may present a viable alternative to traditional predator control techniques for hooded plovers, as well as other ground-nesting birds, provided that an extended exposure to the CTAinducing agent occurs.
Language eng
DOI 10.1071/WR09123
Field of Research 050103 Invasive Species Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 960402 Control of Animal Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Coastal and Estuarine Environments
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
HERDC collection year 2009
Copyright notice ©2009, CSIRO
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