Can farm-management practices reduce the impact of house mouse populations on crops in an irrigated farming system?Peter R. Brown A C , Micah J. Davies A , Grant R. Singleton A and J. David Croft B
A CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, GPO Box 284, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
B NSW Agriculture, PMB Pine Gully Road, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wildlife Research 31(6) 597-604 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR03063
Submitted: 17 July 2003 Accepted: 17 May 2004 Published: 23 December 2004
The impacts of a range of farm-management practices on house mouse (Mus domesticus) populations were tested in a large replicated field study in a complex irrigated farming system in southern New South Wales, Australia. An advisory panel, made up of farmers, extension officers, industry representatives and scientists developed a series of best-practice farm-management actions to minimise the impact of mice. Twelve experimental sites were split into six treated sites, where farmers were encouraged to conduct the recommended practices, and six untreated sites, where farmers conducted their normal farming practices. Mouse abundance was generally low to moderate for the 4-year project (5–60% adjusted trap success). We found significant reductions in population abundance of mice on treated sites when densities were moderate, but no differences when densities were low. Biomass of weeds and grasses around the perimeter of crops were significantly lower on treated sites because of applications of herbicide sprays and grazing by sheep. We could not detect any significant difference in mouse damage to crops between treated and untreated sites; however, levels of damage were low (<5%). Yields of winter cereals and rice crops were significantly higher on treated sites by up to 40%. An analysis of benefits and costs of conducting farming practices on treated sites compared with untreated sites showed a 2 : 1 benefit to cost ratio for winter cereals, 9 : 1 for rice and 4 : 1 for soybeans.
We are very grateful to the farmers who participated in this research, particularly M. Bramston, G. Druitt, V. Filmer, T. Graham, P. Hardy, C. Hardy, K. Russell and I. Sutherland. We thank D. Jones, A. Lewis, K. Leslie, J. Winsbury (CSIRO), R. Eade, J. Osmond (Narrandera Rural Lands Protection Board) and J. Farrell (NSW Agriculture) for their help with collection of field data. We are grateful to J. Jacob, G. Saunders and T. Robinson for their comments on an earlier draft. This project was funded by the Natural Heritage Trust (through the National Feral Animal Control Program of the Bureau of Rural Sciences). The research was conducted in accordance with the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (SEAEC No. 97/98 – 29).
Buckle, A. P. (1988). Integrated management of rice rats in Indonesia. FAO Plant Protection Bulletin 36, 111–118.
Chambers, L. K. , Singleton, G. R. , and van Wensveen, M. (1996). Spatial heterogeneity in wild populations of house mice (Mus domesticus) on the Darling Downs, south-eastern Queensland. Wildlife Research 23, 23–38.
Croft, D. , and Caughley, J. (1995). A survey of the MIA mouse plague – at what cost? IREC Farmers Newsletter 145, 40–41.
Engeman, R. M. , and Sterner, R. T. (2002). A comparison of potential labor-saving sampling methods for assessing large mammal damage in corn. Crop Protection 21, 101–105.
| CrossRef |
Haydock, K. P. , and Shaw, N. H. (1975). The comparative yield method for estimating dry matter of pasture. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture and Animal Husbandry 15, 663–670.
Kay, B. J. , Twigg, L. E. , and Nicol, H. I. (1994). The strategic use of rodenticides against house mice (Mus domesticus) prior to crop invasion. Wildlife Research 21, 11–19.
Mutze, G. J. (1989). Mouse plagues in South Australian cereal-growing areas. I. Occurrence and distribution of plagues. Australian Wildlife Research 16, 677–683.
Mutze, G. J. (1991). Mouse plagues in South Australian cereal-growing areas. III. Changes in mouse abundance during plague and non-plague years, and the role of refugia. Wildlife Research 18, 593–604.
Robertson, G. (1988). Effect of rainfall on biomass, growth and dieback of pasture in an arid grazing system. Australian Journal of Ecology 13, 519–528.
Saunders, G. R. , and Robards, G. E. (1983). Economic considerations of mouse-plague control in irrigated sunflower crops. Crop Protection 2, 153–158.
| CrossRef |
Singleton, G. R. (1989). Population dynamics of an outbreak of house mice (Mus domesticus) in the mallee wheatlands of Australia – hypothesis of plague formation. Journal of Zoology 219, 495–515.
Singleton, G. R. , and Redhead, T. D. (1990). Structure and biology of house mouse populations that plague irregularly; an evolutionary perspective. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 41, 285–300.
Ylönen, H. , Jacob, J. , Davies, M. J. , and Singleton, G. R. (2002). Predation risk and habitat selection of Australian house mice Mus domesticus during an incipient plague: desperate behaviour due to food depletion. Oikos 99, 284–289.
| CrossRef |
White, J. , Horskins, K. , and Wilson, J. (1998). The control of rodent damage in Australian macadamia orchards by manipulation of adjacent non-crop habitats. Crop Protection 17, 353–357.
| CrossRef |