Although it is generally accepted that introduced small mammals have detrimental effects on island ecology, our understanding of these effects is frequently limited by incomplete knowledge of small mammal distribution, density, and biomass. Such information is especially critical in the Mariana Islands, where small mammal density is inversely related to effectiveness of Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis) control tools, such as mouse-attractant traps. We used mark-recapture sampling to determine introduced small mammal distribution, density, and biomass in the major habitats of Guam, Rota, Saipan, and Tinian, including grassland, Leucaena forest, and native limestone forest. Of the five species captured, Rattus diardii (sensu Robins et al. 2007) was most common across habitats and islands. In contrast, Mus musculus was rarely captured at forested sites, Suncus murinus was not captured on Rota, and R. exulans and R. norvegicus captures were uncommon. Modeling indicated that neophobia, island, sex, reproductive status, and rain amount influenced R. diardii capture probability, whereas time, island, and capture heterogeneity influenced S. murinus and M. musculus capture probability. Density and biomass were much greater on Rota, Saipan, and Tinian than on Guam, most likely a result of Brown Tree Snake predation pressure on the latter island. Rattus diardii and M. musculus density and biomass were greatest in grassland, whereas S. murinus density and biomass were greatest in Leucaena forest. The high densities documented during this research suggest that introduced small mammals (especially R. diardii) are impacting abundance and diversity of the native fauna and flora of the Mariana Islands. Further, Brown Tree Snake control and management tools that rely on mouse attractants will be less effective on Rota, Saipan, and Tinian than on Guam. If the Brown Tree Snake becomes established on these islands, high-density introduced small mammal populations will likely facilitate and support a high-density Brown Tree Snake population, even as native species are reduced or extirpated. ?? 2009 by University of Hawai'i Press All rights reserved.
Additional Publication Details
Distribution, density, and biomass of introduced small mammals in the southern mariana islands