The invasion ecology and molecular ecology of stoats (Mustela erminea) on New Zealand's islands: Detecting and assessing migration

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dc.contributor.advisor Clout, M en
dc.contributor.advisor Gleeson, D en
dc.contributor.advisor Murphy, E en
dc.contributor.advisor Byrom, A en Veale, Andrew en 2013-07-18T01:18:01Z en 2013 en
dc.identifier.uri en
dc.description.abstract Stoats (Mustela erminea) are small carnivores that were introduced to New Zealand in the 1880s in an unsuccessful attempt to control introduced European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Since then they have spread throughout New Zealand, contributing to the local extirpation of many indigenous bird species. The stoats remain one of the greatest threats to the current terrestrial fauna of New Zealand. I undertook a range of different studies of the invasion ecology of stoats, which I present in this thesis – with the primary aim being to better understand stoat population dynamics, in order to improve management programmes. First, in a study of the genetic diversity of stoats in New Zealand I found that stoats in New Zealand are more genetically diverse than the present day stoat population in Britain – from which it was founded. I infer from this observation that British stoats probably lost genetic diversity due to myxomatosis decimating their primary prey in the 1950s. The second study I present involved creating a predictive model of stoat population presence on islands, based on the physical, biological and human settlement characteristics of the islands. I found that the distance offshore and island size were the only predictive factors for stoat presence on islands, and from this result I infer that swimming is the primary invasion pathway. I also deduced that previous estimates of the invasion potential of stoats significantly underestimated their swimming ability. In two further studies, I evaluated the origin of stoats caught on two different islands after control programmes on each island had commenced using genetic assignment and clustering techniques. I discovered that a stoat caught on Rangitoto Island a year after the eradication programme originated from the opposing mainland, which required a 3 km swim or human assisted transport. On Secretary Island, I found that both in-­‐situ breeding by animals missed by trapping, along with immigration from the mainland was occurring. Furthermore, I investigated stoat population connectivity among mainland sites in the Auckland Region, and to nearby islands (also estimated using genetic methods) finding low recent migration between distinct forest-­‐patches, and extremely low migration rates to two large islands several kilometres offshore. The primary conclusion of my research as a whole is that stoats can swim further, and do so more regularly than previously thought, and that they need to be managed in a metapopulation context, with an understanding of inter-­‐population connectivity. en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
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dc.title The invasion ecology and molecular ecology of stoats (Mustela erminea) on New Zealand's islands: Detecting and assessing migration en
dc.type Thesis en The University of Auckland en Doctoral en PhD en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The Author en
dc.rights.accessrights en
pubs.elements-id 404497 en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2013-07-18 en
dc.identifier.wikidata Q112158995

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