Invasive species spaghetti for dinner? A network of species interactions for managing invasive cats and rats on Christmas Island

By Yi Han


Photo: Dion Maple


Invasive cats and rats threaten native species on Christmas Island through predation and indirect changes in ecosystem processes. Management programs have been proposed to eradicate cats and possibly rats. Before an eradication program can commence, however we need to answer a number of key questions. What is the management goal? What are the alternative management strategies? What are the risks and benefits of these management strategies?

In August, a NERP-funded workshop was held at the University of Queensland to facilitate Yi’s PhD project. The workshop was led by Dr. Eve McDonald-Madden, bringing together managers and decision makers from Australian Park and Christmas Island National Park.

Getting on top of the invasive species problem!


Photo: Yi Han


We used this workshop to

  1. identify decision makers;
  2. discuss the scope of the problem such as responsibility, time, management targets and etc.;
  3. determine and justify the management objectives, for example, recovery of native species of conservation concern;
  4. elicit alternative management strategies and the costs.

The key output of this two-day workshop was a network of species interactions elicited from experts. This network connects target species and objectives and reflects the nature of this management problem, providing a basis for Yi’s future work. Next, Yi will construct Bayesian Network model and conduct an expert elicitation process to parameterize the model before putting it into practice to test alternative management scenarios.

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