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Current and future threats from non-indigenous animal species in northern Australia: a spotlight on World Heritage Area Kakadu National Park

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Bradshaw, CJA and Field, IC and Bowman, DMJS and Haynes, C and Brook, BW (2007) Current and future threats from non-indigenous animal species in northern Australia: a spotlight on World Heritage Area Kakadu National Park. Wildlife Research, 34 (6). pp. 419-436. ISSN 1035-3712

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Abstract

Non-indigenous animal species threaten biodiversity and ecosystem stability by damaging or transforming
habitats, killing or out-competing native species and spreading disease. We use World Heritage Area Kakadu National
Park, northern Australia, as a focal region to illustrate the current and potential threats posed by non-indigenous animal
species to internationally and nationally recognised natural and cultural values. Available evidence suggests that large feral
herbivores such as Asian swamp buffalo, pigs and horses are the most ecologically threatening species in this region. This
may reflect the inherent research bias, because these species are highly visible and impact primary production; consequently,
their control has attracted the strongest research and management efforts. Burgeoning threats, such as the already
established cane toad and crazy ant, and potentially non-indigenous freshwater fish, marine invertebrates and pathogens,
may cause severe problems for native biodiversity. To counter these threats, management agencies must apply an ongoing,
planned and practical approach using scientifically based and well funded control measures; however, many stakeholders
require direct evidence of the damage caused by non-indigenous species before agreeing to implement control. To demonstrate
the increasing priority of non-indigenous species research in Australia and to quantify taxonomic and habitat biases
in research focus, we compiled an extensive biography of peer-reviewed articles published between 1950 and 2005.
Approximately 1000 scientific papers have been published on the impact and control of exotic animals in Australia, with
a strong bias towards terrestrial systems and mammals. Despite the sheer quantity of research on non-indigenous species
and their effects, management responses remain largely ad hoc and poorly evaluated, especially in northern Australia and
in high-value areas such as Kakadu National Park. We argue that improved management in relatively isolated and susceptible
tropical regions requires (1) robust quantification of density–damage relationships, and (2) the delivery of research
findings that stimulate land managers to develop cost-effective control and monitoring programs.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Wildlife Research
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Page Range: pp. 419-436
ISSN: 1035-3712
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1071/WR06056
Additional Information:

Copyright © 2007 CSIRO.

Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2008 14:38
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:35
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