Kiwis help tackle Aussie pests

New Zealand-designed software created to predict and tackle mouse outbreaks is being trialled in Australia.

Credit: Tim Watts (Flickr) is a new, interactive website based on Google-type mapping technology that lets crop farmers record and view mouse activity in their area in real time. It helps inform the community about changes in mouse numbers or damage to crops and when to implement control before an outbreak causes severe damage.

Landcare Research is providing the expertise on building information from farmers into computer models that forecast outbreaks of mice, as part of a partnership with the Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre (IA-CRC) in Australia.

Dr. Roger Pech, Principal Scientist at Landcare, says that the same technology could soon be applied to pest species in New Zealand including wasps, predators, pest birds, and possums.

“This sort of ‘citizen surveillance’ is a major component of what we proposed as part of the Bio-Heritage National Science Challenge. It’s very simple but incredibly useful,” he says. “Not only does it get the public involved in science in a meaningful and enjoyable way, it builds up public awareness of biodiversity and pest species and then makes that same information available to researchers.”

The study has been covered in New Zealand and global media:

Radio NZ: NZ software could scupper mouse outbreaks
AgriHQ: Kiwi citizen science helps Aussie farmers
Scoop: Kiwi science at work on Aussie pest problems
ABC: A website is being launched to help farmers and researchers in the fight against mice