Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A review of mammal eradications on Mediterranean islands.

Abstract

Impacts of alien invasive species on island communities and ecosystems may be even more detrimental than on the mainland. Therefore, since the 1950s, hundreds of restoration projects have been implemented worldwide, with the aim of controlling or eradicating alien species from islands. To date, no review has been focused on eradication on Mediterranean islands. To fill the gap, I reviewed the available information concerning mammal eradications so far carried out on Mediterranean islands, examining the details of several aspects of project implementation and monitoring. I obtained data for 139 attempted eradications on 107 Mediterranean islands in eight countries, with Greece, Italy, and Spain accounting for the highest number. Eradication projects targeted 13 mammal species. The black rat Rattus rattus was the target of over 75% of the known attempted eradications in the Mediterranean Basin; other species targeted were feral goat Capra hircus, house mouse Mus musculus, European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, and domestic cat Felis catus. The most widely adopted technique was poisoning (77% of all eradications), followed by trapping (15%) and hunting (4%). However, techniques were largely target-specific. The average failure rate was about 11%. However, this percentage varied according to the specific mammalian order, and eradications of Carnivora failed more often than those of other mammals. Among rodents, house mouse eradication attained a very high failure rate (75%). Reinvasion occurred after 15% of successful eradications. A better understanding of the motivations of animal rights activists may improve the chance of success when eradicating charismatic or domesticated species. Furthermore, it is crucial to collect data and case studies about reinvasions, in order to strengthen biosecurity programmes following eradication. As in other parts of the world, the next frontier in alien mammal management on Mediterranean islands concerns the eradication of invasive species from inhabited islands.