Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Mitigating impacts of invasive alien predators on an endangered sea duck amidst high native predation pressure.

Abstract

Anthropogenically introduced invasive species represent a major threat to global biodiversity by causing population declines and extinctions of native species. The negative impacts of introduced predators are well documented, yet a fundamental knowledge gap exists regarding the efficiency of potential mitigation methods to restore the ecosystem. Other understudied aspects concern prey behavioural antipredator responses and the historical context of native predator-prey interactions, which may moderate invasion impacts on native prey. Invasion impacts of American mink (Neovison vison) and raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) into the Baltic Sea archipelago are poorly understood, and the efficiency of removal efforts as a means to alleviate depredation pressure on native prey is debated. Here, we examine the effectiveness of invasive predator removal on ground-nesting female common eider (Somateria mollissima) mortality, breeding success and breeding propensity over a 9-year period, while controlling for predation risk imposed by the main native predator, the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Our results clearly show that intensified removal of American minks and raccoon dogs decreased the number of female eiders killed during nesting, while improving both nesting success and breeding propensity. Such obvious positive effects of invasive predator removal are particularly noteworthy against the backdrop of a soaring eagle population, indicating that the impacts of invasives may become accentuated when native predators differ taxonomically and by hunting mode. This study shows that invasive alien predator removal is an effective conservation measure clearly aiding native fauna even under severe native predation pressure. Such cost-effective conservation actions call for governmental deployment across large areas.