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Control of invasive predatory mammals is an important step in urban ecological restoration. Invasive mammals such as rats, possums, stoats and mice prey on native birds, lizards and insects. Rodents, possums and various herbivorous mammals also browse native plants or eat fruits and seeds. This consumption of indigenous species can significantly disrupt natural processes required for long-term resilience of urban ecosystems, including self-sustaining populations of native animals and plants.

The distribution and abundance of mammalian predators in urban environments are not well known, though they are likely to differ from rural and wilderness ecosystems. Better understanding of these urban predator 'profiles' is required to achieve effective and efficient predator control in New Zealand's cities. Our Predators research team is quantifying activity of urban predators and benefits to native species under different predator control regimes, in order to develop multi-species urban predator management programmes.

Predator surveys
We have surveyed predator populations with inked footprint tracking tunnels, chew-cards and motion-detection cameras in areas with different levels of predator control across five major cities.

The surveys were undertaken in three habitat types: (1) forest remnants, (2) parks and (3) established residential areas with gardens. We engaged citizen scientists to help process data and are now building a spatially-explicit predictive model of predator activity in urban habitats.

Multi-species predator control programmes
Survey data has been used to develop and implement multi-species control programmes that target key predators in specific urban habitats. Results of this targeted management will support cost-benefit analyses for urban land managers, including assessing biodiversity gains associated with different control levels.

This research supports optimal design of predator management and contributes to development of best-practice methodology in landscape-scale species conservation and restoration.

Study sites
The study sites for the Predators research project are in five cities:

  • Tauranga
  • Hamilton
  • New Plymouth
  • Wellington
  • Dunedin

Watch this space! Research findings available in early 2021.

Research Team



Kim Miller - MSc

Ellen Webb - Summer Assistant 17/18

Natasha Stanton - Summer Assistant 17/18