Why small mammals matter: land use change, climate change, and outbreaks of voles, rabbits and pikas

27 April 2012

Prof Roger Pech (The School of Biological Sciences Research, The University of Auckland) hosted by Peter Banks.

Small mammals play a central role in ecological processes that sustain, and sometimes degrade, natural ecosystems. After a decade of suppression by rabbit haemorrhagic disease, rabbits are re-emerging in New Zealand and Australia as serious agricultural and environmental pests. In western China, some species of small mammals, particularly those with eruptive population dynamics, are controlled to reduce competition with livestock for scarce forage resources, to stop soil erosion, and to prevent spill-over tohumans of diseases such as bubonic plague.

Three examples will be used to illustrate how the population ecology of small mammals reflects ecosystem-wide changes, including the potential effects of climate change. The examples are Brandt's voles in Inner Mongolia, rabbits in semi-arid Australia, and plateau pikas on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Time: DT Anderson Lecture Theatre, A08

Location: 4-5pm