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


Date of this Version



Ecological Modelling 365 (2017) 106–118.


U.S. government work.


Understanding effectiveness of control strategies of pest species is fundamental for planning efficient and cost-effective management programs. In addition to culling rates, there are many potential factors that can determine efficiency of different management strategies, including demographic processes such as immigration rates, birth dynamics, and spatial ecology. We developed a stochastic, data-based simulation model of feral swine population dynamics which accounted for social dynamics in space. We tested the impacts of different spatio-temporal management strategies (i.e., culling rates, timing of culling during the year, spatial pattern of culling and strength of a barrier to immigration) on population response and efficiency. The spatial culling strategy dramatically impacted efficiency of control – using zonation required removal of fewer pigs (up to 46% less) to achieve similar reductions compared with other spatial strategies. Also, our spatially-explicit model predicted that lower culling intensities could be used to achieve population reductions when zonation was applied relative to predictions from harvesting theory based on simple logistic models. As culling intensity increased (≥50% of target population annually) and the target population reached low density (<5% of original density), effects of spatial strategy became less pronounced relative to immigration barrier effects. Lastly, for the same level of moderate culling effort, prioritization of culling during the low-birthing period generally resulted in faster population reduction to near zero abundance relative to prioritization during the high-birthing period, or spreading the work over a year period, but the significance of this effect depended on the spatial culling strategy and culling intensity. Our results imply that continually updating knowledge of current abundance during management may not only be important for determining culling quotas, but also for updating and optimizing management strategies. When the management goal is maximum population control, consideration of birth and spatial dynamics can increase return on management effort and bring to light management inefficiencies.

Included in

Life Sciences Commons