Train mammals to avoid problematic species

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Source countries

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of training mammals to avoid problematic species. Both studies were in Australia.

COMMUNITY RESPONSE (0 STUDIES)

POPULATION RESPONSE (1 STUDY)

  • Survival (1 study): A controlled study in Australia found that training greater bilbies to avoid introduced predators did not increase their post-release survival.

BEHAVIOUR (2 STUDIES)

  • Behaviour change (2 studies): One of two controlled studies in Australia found that greater bilbies trained to avoid introduced predators showed more predator avoidance behaviour, the second study found no difference in behaviour between trained and untrained bilbies.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A controlled study in 2005 in a desert reserve in South Australia, Australia (Moseby et al. 2012) found that greater bilbies Macrotis lagotis which had been trained to avoid invasive mammalian predators showed more predator avoidance behaviour than bilbies which had not received such training. Seven bilbies which had been trained to avoid predators changed burrow more frequently (5.7 times in 11 nights) than seven bilbies without such training (1.4 times). Trained bilbies also moved further between successive burrows (trained: 1,387 m; untrained: 158 m) and selected burrows with more entrance holes (trained: 3.6 entrances; untrained: 2.2 entrances) than untrained individuals. Additionally, all seven trained bilbies changed burrow the night after cat Felis catus scent was sprayed at their burrow entrance, but none of the untrained bilbies changed burrow. In May–June 2005, 14 bilbies were caught in a predator-free area of the Arid Recovery Reserve. Upon capture, seven individuals were exposed to a mock attack by a cat carcass and to cat urine and faecal matter and seven were not. Bilbies were then released at the capture site. All bilbies were equipped with microchips and radio-transmitters. Bilbies were radio-tracked daily to locate their diurnal burrow. Three days after capture, bilbies were located in their diurnal burrows and cat scent was sprayed at the entrance within four hours of sunset.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A controlled study in 2007–2009 in a desert reserve in South Australia, Australia (Moseby et al. 2012) found that post-release survival and predator avoidance behaviour of greater bilbies Macrotis lagotis with and without training to avoid invasive mammalian predators did not differ. Nine of 10 bilbies trained to avoid predators and eight of 10 without such training survived over six months after release. The trained bilby that died was either predated or scavenged by a wedge-tailed eagle Aquila audax. One bilby without training was killed by a cat Felis catus and one died of natural causes. Four months after release, the number of bilbies which changed burrow the night after cat scent was sprayed at their burrow entrance was the same for trained and untrained individuals (3 of 5 bilbies in each group). The population became extinct 19 months after release. In August 2007, twenty bilbies were caught in a predator-free area of the Arid Recovery Reserve and released, within three hours, into a 200-km2 unfenced area with invasive cats and foxes Vulpes vulpes. Upon capture, 10 individuals were exposed to a mock attack by a cat carcass and to cat urine and faecal matter and 10 were not. All bilbies were equipped with radio-transmitters. Daily attempts were made to locate bilbies during the first month and weekly mortality checks were made for at least the following six months. Four months after release, bilbies were located in their diurnal burrows and cat scent was sprayed at the entrance within four hours of sunset.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation - Published 2020

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

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