U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Environ Sci Pollut Res (2013) 20:480–487; DOI 10.1007/s11356-012-1050-6


Baits containing brodifacoum rodenticide were aerially applied to eradicate invasive black rats from Palmyra Atoll, an important biodiversity center. Bait application must be sufficient to be effective, while minimizing environmental hazards by not exceeding designated label rates, prompting our bait density assessments for two aerial drops. With few physical or human resources on this remote, uninhabited atoll, assessments were particularly challenging, requiring observations within 30 min of aerial application to avoid bait loss to rats, crabs, or elements. We estimated bait density using quadrat sampling within 13 terrestrial sampling areas. We also sampled 10 tidal flat areas to assess inadvertent bait scatter into marine aquatic environments. Of particular value for challenging sampling circumstances, our quadrats had to be lightweight and durable, which we addressed by using widely available PVC hoops (“Hula Hoops”), the size of which was ideal for sampling purposes. At 77.5 and 78.7 kg/ha, overall bait densities were very near to the target densities of 80 and 75 kg/ha, respectively. However, considerable variability in bait densities existed among sampled areas, 8.6–178.2 and 31.4–129.5 kg/ha for the respective drops. Environmental, human, and equipment factors likely accounted for this variability. Tidal flat sampling revealed variable bait scatter into aquatic environments, from 0–46.3 kg/ha across the two drops. No differences were found in average bait densities among 1-, 4-, and 7-m distances from high tide lines. Our methods might broadly assist bait density (and other) surveys under challenging circumstances.