Monitoring mice in Australia – August 2015

Update #7

Summary

  • Fig1_Aug2015MouseMonitorIsolated patches of moderate mouse abundance in Yorke Peninsula (SA) and near Geraldton (WA) (Figure 1, right. Click on the map for larger view)– there was some damage at sowing of winter crops. Farmers should continue to monitor mice through winter to ensure damage does not occur as plants mature.
  • Low mouse abundance elsewhere – mice are not likely to cause serious damage as the crops grow, but growers should continue to monitor activity, especially from booting of winter cereals.
  • Please continue to use MouseAlert. 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.
  • The final scheduled monitoring for this project will occur in September 2015.

Current situation

Mouse abundance remains relatively low across all monitoring sites (Figure 1). The mouse breeding season stopped in late autumn. Mouse abundance peaked around sowing of winter cereal crops in Southern Australia. Mouse abundance should decline through winter into early spring. Mice can cause damage to booting heads and maturing plants, so growers should remain vigilant as crops mature and develop grain.

  • Fig2&3_Aug2015MouseMonitorSouth Australia: Mouse activity is moderate in Yorke Peninsula, but relatively low across remaining SA. Mouse abundance decreased on benchmark sites in Adelaide Plains in June (Figure 2 right, click on graph for larger view) and activity is moderate on Yorke Peninsula. Growers should remain vigilant as crops mature. New monitoring sites are being established in Eyre Peninsula, but early reports  are abundance is low.
  • Victoria: Mouse abundance is generally low. Mouse numbers are low across Mallee and Wimmera regions (Figure 2). Growers should be vigilant as crops mature.
  • Queensland: Very few mice observed on the Darling Downs and Central Queensland (Figure 3). Mouse abundance likely to remain low. Growers should be vigilant as crops mature.
  • Northern, central and southern NSW: Generally low activity. Nil chew card activity on most sites, but some activity in canola paddock at Alectown, 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: 4/5 sites nil chew card activity, and 1/5 sites some mouse activity observed (a few holes); Geraldton: medium activity N of Geraldton and low E of Geraldton. 

The ‘Mouse Forecast’

Central Darling Downs (QLD):The density index for the mouse population is currently very low (1.0%), the decline rate is  expected to be very shallow, so the long-term prediction for next year (2016) is high. The Darling Downs model has achieved a 78% success rate from these long-term predictions over the period of 1989 to 2003.

Northwest Victoria: Mouse abundance was low at sowing in autumn 2015 and remains low. The prediction for Northwest  Victoria is dependent on rainfall from April to October, plus  November and December. So the potential for a problem next is  dependent in in-crop rainfall this cropping season.

MouseAlertApp_PhonescreenFuture activities

Please continue to report mouse abundance on your farm (presence and absence!) using MouseAlert  (www.mousealert.org.au) using 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 or Google Play. There are now more than 300 records despite low mouse numbers. We welcome any information at anytime.

You can also follow progress on
Twitter (@MouseAlert). The next scheduled monitoring will be
conducted in winter (September 2015) on all sites.

Background

This is an update on surveillance of mice across the grain-belt of Australia for June/July 2015. Mouse populations were monitored in typical grains farming systems in WA, SA, Vic, NSW and Qld during early Winter 2015 (June). 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 Map below right: Approximate locations of mouse monitoring occurring in WA, SA, Vic, NSW and Qld. Click on the image for a larger map.):

  • Apr2015_locationMapBenchmark 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.

This 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.

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
Links

Project page and previous updates (IA CRC website)

Documents

Mouse Monitoring Update #7 - August 2015    [540kb PDF]