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Contact rates with nesting birds before and after invasive snake removal: Estimating the effects of trap-based control

July 22, 2019

Invasive predators are responsible for almost 60% of all vertebrate extinctions worldwide with the most vulnerable faunas occurring on islands. The brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis) is a notorious invasive predator that caused the extirpation or extinction of most native forest birds on Guam. The success of avian reintroduction efforts on Guam will depend on whether snake-control techniques sufficiently reduce contact rates between brown treesnakes and reintroduced birds. Mouse-lure traps can successfully reduce brown treesnake populations at local scales. Over a 22-week period both with and without active snake removal, we evaluated snake-trap contact rates for mouse- and bird-lure traps. Bird-lure traps served as a proxy for reintroduced nesting birds. Overall, mouse-lure traps caught more snakes per trap night than did bird-lure traps. However, cameras revealed that bird-lure traps had a snake contact rate almost 15 times greater than the number of successfully captured snakes. Snakes that entered bird-lure traps tended to be larger and in better body condition and were mostly captured in bird-lure traps, despite numerous adjacent mouse-lure traps. Traps placed along grid edges caught more snakes than interior traps, suggesting continuous immigration into the trapping grid within which bird-lure traps were located. Contact between snakes and bird-lure traps was equivalent before and after snake removal, suggesting mouse-lure traps did not adequately reduce the density of snakes that posed a risk to birds, at least at the timescale of this project. This study provides evidence that some snakes exhibit prey selectivity for live birds over live mouse lures. Reliance on a single control tool and lure may be inadequate for support of avian reintroductions and could lead to unintended harvest-driven trait changes of this invasive predator.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Contact rates with nesting birds before and after invasive snake removal: Estimating the effects of trap-based control
DOI 10.3897/neobiota.49.35592
Authors Amy A. Yackel Adams, Melia G. Nafus, Page Klug, Bjorn Lardner, M.J. Mazurek, Julie A. Savidge, Robert Reed
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title NeoBiota
Index ID 70216025
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center