Substantial efforts have been made to identify the most effective practices for the control and management of invasive vertebrate pest species, such as the feral pig (Sus scrofa). We investigated the demographics, abundance, and molecular ecology of a persecuted feral pig population that was subjected to control. We then applied methodologies to determine if we could retrospectively quantify any changes in the population structure or dynamics of these pigs. Feral pig demographic and abundance parameters indicated that in this population of feral pigs, there were very few detectable changes between the two aerial culling years. We observed this despite environmental conditions being optimal for control. Genetic results indicated that pigs culled in the latter 2004 cull were genetically identical to those pigs that inhabited the area a year earlier. The genetic population was geographically larger than the sample area. These findings indicate that the recovery in feral pig density witnessed in the controlled area was not a result of reinvasion from a separate, genetically distinct population, but rather, it was the result of reinvasion from feral pigs outside the study area but within the same genetic population. Importantly, we were unable to detect any recent genetic bottlenecks. This approach has considerable potential for auditing the effectiveness of control programs of pest species and assessing the feasibility of impacting upon or locally eradicating many other free-ranging pest species.
|Author||BRENDAN D. COWLED, STEVEN J. LAPIDGE, JORDAN O. HAMPTON, PETER B. S. SPENCER|
|Secondary title||Journal of Wildlife Management|
|Institution||Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre|