Date of this Version
Pepin KM, Davis AJ, Cunningham FL, VerCauteren KC, Eckery DC (2017) Potential effects of incorporating fertility control into typical culling regimes in wild pig populations. PLoS ONE 12(8): e0183441. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0183441
Effective management of widespread invasive species such as wild pigs (Sus scrofa) is limited by resources available to devote to the effort. Better insight of the effectiveness of different management strategies on population dynamics is important for guiding decisions of resource allocation over space and time. Using a dynamic population model, we quantified effects of culling intensities and time between culling events on population dynamics of wild pigs in the USA using empirical culling patterns and data-based demographic parameters. In simulated populations closed to immigration, substantial population declines (50±100%) occurred within 4 years when 20±60% of the population was culled annually, but when immigration from surrounding areas occurred, there was a maximum of 50% reduction, even with the maximum culling intensity of 60%. Incorporating hypothetical levels of fertility control with realistic culling intensities was most effective in reducing populations when they were closed to immigration and when intrinsic population growth rate was too high (> = 1.78) to be controlled by culling alone. However, substantial benefits from fertility control used in conjunction with culling may only occur over a narrow range of net population growth rates (i.e., where net is the result of intrinsic growth rates and culling) that varies depending on intrinsic population growth rate. The management implications are that the decision to use fertility control in conjunction with culling should rely on concurrent consideration of achievable culling intensity, underlying demographic parameters, and costs of culling and fertility control. The addition of fertility control reduced abundance substantially more than culling alone, however the effects of fertility control were weaker than in populations without immigration. Because these populations were not being reduced substantially by culling alone, fertility control could be an especially helpful enhancement to culling for reducing abundance to target levels in areas where immigration can't be prevented.