An efficient method of evaluating multiple concurrent management actions on invasive populations
Evaluation of the efficacy of management actions to control invasive species is crucial for maintaining funding and to provide feedback for the continual improvement of management efficiency. However, it is often difficult to assess the efficacy of control methods due to limited resources for monitoring. To evaluate management actions there is often a trade-off in effort aimed at performing management actions and effort aimed at collecting monitoring data to evaluate management actions. We
... oped a method to estimate invasive species abundance, evaluate management effectiveness, and evaluate population growth overtime from a combination of removal activities (e.g., aerial gunning, trapping, ground shooting) using only data collected during removal efforts (the method of removal, the date, location, number of animals removed, and the effort). This dynamic approach allows for estimating abundance at discrete time points and the estimation of population growth between removal periods. We applied this method to removal data from Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri from December 2015 to September 2019, where the management objective is elimination. Populations of feral swine on Mingo NWR have fluctuated over time but have shown more marked declines in the last 3-6 months. More dramatic declines were observed in the center of the refuge. To counteract population growth (from both births and immigration) the percent of the population of feral swine removed monthly must be greater than the growth rate. On average, we found that removing 10% of the population monthly had only a 50% chance of causing a population decline, whereas removing 15% of the population monthly had a 95% chance of causing a population decline. Our method provides advancement over traditional removal modeling approaches because it can be applied to evaluate management programs that use a broad range of removal techniques concurrently and whose management effort and spatial coverage vary across time.