Date of this Version
Berentsen, A.R., W.C. Pitt, J.D. Eisemann, R.M. Engeman. 2014. Longevity of rodenticide bait pellets in a tropical environment following a rat eradication program. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, online. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-2148-1.
Invasive rodents (primarily Rattus spp.) are responsible for loss of biodiversity in island ecosystems worldwide. Large-scale rodenticide applications are typically used to eradicate rats and restore ecological communities. In tropical ecosystems, environmental conditions rapidly degrade baits and competition for baits by non-target animals can result in eradication failure. Our objective was to evaluate persistence of rodenticide baits during a rat eradication program on Palmyra Atoll; a remote tropical atoll with intense competition for resources by land crabs. Following aerial application, bait condition was monitored in four terrestrial environments and in the canopy foliage of coconut palms. Ten circular PVC hoops were fixed in place in each of Palmyra's four primary terrestrial habitats and five rodenticide pellets were placed in each hoop. Five coconut palms were selected in three distinct regions of the atoll. One rodenticide pellet was placed on each of five palm fronds in each coconut palm. Fresh baits were placed in all monitoring locations after each broadcast bait application. Bait condition and survival was monitored for 7 days after the first bait application and 6 days after second application. Bait survival curves differed between applications at most monitoring sites, suggesting a decrease in overall rat activity as a result of rodenticide treatment. One terrestrial site showed near 100%bait survival after both applications, likely due to low localized rat and crab densities. Median days to pellet disappearance were one and two days for the first and second application, respectively. Differences in survival curves were not detected in canopy sites between bait applications. Median days to pellet disappearance in canopy sites were 2 and 4 days for the first and second application, respectively. Frequent rainfall likely contributed to rapid degradation of bait pellets in coconut palm fronds.