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20 March 2015 Recovery of small rodent populations after population collapse
S. Hein, J. Jacob
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In this review we summarise published knowledge regarding small mammal population recovery following sudden population collapse, regardless as to whether the collapse is caused by natural or man-made events. We determine recovery mechanisms, recovery time and recovery rate, and suggest how to adapt and optimise current methods to regulate small mammal population size, for pest management and/or conservation. It is vital that the principles underlying the recovery mechanisms are known for both pest control and conservation to align management methods to either maintain animal numbers at a permanent minimum level or increase population size. Collapses can be caused naturally, as in the declining phase of multi-annual fluctuations and after natural disasters, or by man-made events, such as pesticide application. In general, there are three ways population recovery can occur: (1) in situ survival and multiplication of a small remaining fraction of the population; (2) immigration; or (3) a combination of the two. The recovery mechanism strongly depends on life history strategy, social behaviour and density-dependent processes in population dynamics of the species in question. In addition, the kind of disturbance, its intensity and spatial scale, as well as environmental circumstances (e.g. the presence and distance of refuge areas) have to be taken into account. Recovery time can vary from a couple of days to several years depending on the reproductive potential of the species and the type of disturbances, regardless of whether the collapse is man made or natural. Ultimately, most populations rebound to levels equal to numbers before the collapse. Based on current knowledge, case-by-case decisions seem appropriate for small-scale conservation. For pest control, a large-scale approach seems necessary. Further investigations are required to make sound, species-specific recommendations.

© CSIRO 2015
S. Hein and J. Jacob "Recovery of small rodent populations after population collapse," Wildlife Research 42(2), 108-118, (20 March 2015).
Received: 14 August 2014; Accepted: 1 January 2015; Published: 20 March 2015

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