Monitoring mice in Australia – April 2015

Summary

  • Apr2015_mapModerate to high mouse abundance in Yorke Peninsula, Adelaide Plains, parts of Eyre Peninsula (SA) and Macalister (Qld) (Figure 1, right. Click on the map for larger view)– some  damage might occur at sowing of winter crops. Mice are  still breeding and abundance will peak around sowing. Growers need to monitor mouse activity before sowing and manage mice to  protect their crops.
  • Low mouse abundance elsewhere in South Australia and Queensland, and low across Western Australia, Victoria and New South  Wales – mice are not likely to cause serious damage at sowing, but growers should continue to monitor activity.
  • The National Mouse Census Week is set for 13-19 April 2015. Report and map mouse activity using MouseAlert (www.mousealert.org.au) so other growers can see what mouse activity is being observed in their neighbourhood. Follow on twitter using @MouseAlert.

Current situation

Mouse abundance remains relatively low across all monitoring sites, except for higher than normal mouse abundance in Yorke Peninsula and parts of Eyre Peninsula (SA) and Macalister (Qld) (Figure 1). Mice continued to breed through summer and into early autumn, and abundance will peak in autumn at sowing of winter crops in southern Australia. Where mouse abundance is moderate to high, mice could cause damage at sowing.

  • Fig2&3_Apr2015South Australia: Mouse activity is moderate in Yorke Peninsula, the Adelaide Plains, and isolated parts of Eyre Peninsula (Ceduna and Buckleboo), but relatively low across remaining SA. Mouse abundance increased on benchmark sites in Adelaide Plains in March (Figure 2 right, click on graph for larger view) and activity is moderate to high on Yorke Peninsula. Damage at  sowing is possible. Growers should remain vigilant.
  • Victoria: Mouse abundance is generally low. Mouse numbers are low across Mallee and Wimmera regions (Figure 2). Damage is unlikely at sowing, but growers should be vigilant leading up to  sowing.
  • Queensland: Moderate mouse abundance around Macalister,  but very few mice observed on the Darling Downs and Central Queensland (Figure 3). There is abundant food for mice in lodged sorghum crops after heavy rains. Mouse abundance could  potentially increase.
  • Northern, central and southern NSW: Generally low activity. Nil chew card activity on most sites, but some activity at Alectown (in paddock) and Euabalong (native vegetation), Central West NSW. Data for Central NSW were collected as part of the Central West Farming Systems “Rain Grain and Stubble” GRDC project.
  • Western Australia: mouse activity is low. Ravensthorpe: 3/5 sites nil chew card activity, and 3/5 sites some mouse activity observed; Geraldton: nil chew card activity (4/4 sites) with some active burrows present. 

The ‘Mouse Forecast’

Central Darling Downs (QLD): There is low likelihood of an outbreak in autumn 2015 (The expected May 2015 population density index  is Low). The Darling Downs model has achieved a 78% success rate  from these long-term predictions over the period of 1989 to 2003.

Northwest Victoria: There is a low likelihood of an outbreak in  autumn 2015 (probability of 0.12). The prediction for Northwest  Victoria is dependent on rainfall from April to October, plus  November and December. Rainfall in December was low (2 mm), so mouse abundance should remain low.

MouseAlertApp_PhonescreenFuture activities

National Mouse Census Week (13-19 April 2015) – we need your input! We  encourage you to report mouse  abundance on your farm (presence  and absence!) using MouseAlert  (www.mousealert.org.au) on your  smart phone, tablet or computer and  to check what other mouse activity is  being reported locally and regionally.  You can now Download the App for  MouseAlert from the App Store or  iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/feralscan-pest-mapping/id975407187.

We welcome any information at anytime. You can also follow progress on Twitter (@MouseAlert). The next scheduled monitoring will be conducted in winter (June 2015) on all sites.

Background

This is an update on surveillance of mice across the grain-belt of Australia for March/April 2015. Mouse populations were monitored in typical grains farming systems in WA, SA, Vic, NSW and Qld during early Autumn 2015 (March). The monitoring provides data on the size (abundance) of mouse populations, their breeding status
and overall activity. This information is used in models that have been developed progressively over the last 20-30 years to predict mouse outbreaks. Monitoring was conducted on (Figure 4):

  • Benchmark sites: live trapping data collected for use in models in Adelaide Plains (SA), Walpeup (Vic) and the Darling Downs (Qld).
  • Quantitative rapid-assessment sites: using mouse chew cards and active mouse burrows assessments on 86 transects across 11 sites.
  • Qualitative monitoring networks: using data from farmers and agronomists in 11 sites.

Apr2015_locationMapThis is part of a 3-year study funded by the GRDC to monitor mouse populations and forecast the likelihood of mouse outbreaks. The  project is a collaboration between Landcare Research (NZ), CSIRO Agriculture Flagship and the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.
Map right: Approximate locations of mouse monitoring occurring in WA, SA, Vic, NSW and Qld. Click on the image for a larger map.

Further information

For further information about the monitoring or models, or if you have observed mouse activity in your area, please contact the people below, or see www.mousealert.org.au

Dr Peter Brown
CSIRO Agriculture Flagship, Canberra
Peter.Brown@csiro.au
Simon Humphrys
Invasive Animals CRC, Adelaide
Simon.Humphrys@invasiveanimals.com
Dr Roger Pech
Landcare Research, New Zealand
PechR@LandcareResearch.co.nz
Documents

Mouse Monitoring Update #6 - April 2015    [540kb PDF]

Links

Project page and previous updates (IA CRC website)