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Ecol Appl. 2006 Oct;16(5):2000-10.

Ecologically based management of rodents in the real world: applied to a mixed agroecosystem in Vietnam.

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  • 1CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra, Australia. peter.brown@csiro.au


Rodents cause significant damage to lowland irrigated rice crops in the Red River Delta of Vietnam. A four-year study was conducted in 1999-2002 to examine the effectiveness of applying rodent control practices using the principles of ecologically based pest management. Four 100-150 ha study sites adjacent to villages were selected and farmers on two treated sites were asked to follow a set of rodent management practices, while farmers on the untreated sites were asked not to change their typical practices. Farmers on the treated sites were encouraged to use trap-barrier systems (TBS's; 0.065-ha early planted crop surrounded by a plastic fence with multiple capture traps; one TBS for every 10-15 ha), to work together over large areas by destroying burrows in refuge habitats soon after planting (before the rats reestablish in the fields and before the onset of breeding), synchronizing planting and harvesting of the their rice crops, cleaning up weeds and piles of straw, and keeping bund (embankment) size small (<30 cm) to prevent burrowing. A 75% reduction in the use of rodenticides and plastic barrier fences (without traps or an early crop) was achieved on treated sites. The abundance of rodents was low after implementation of the management practices across all sites. There was no evidence for an effect of treatment on the abundance of rodents captured each month using live-capture traps, and no difference in damage between treatments or in yields obtained from the rice crops. Therefore, ecologically based rodent management was equally effective as typical practices for rodent management. Farmers on the treated sites spent considerably less money applying rodent control practices, which was reflected in the comparative increase in the partial benefit:cost of applying ecologically based rodent management from 3:1 on treated sites and untreated sites prior to the implementation of treatments to 17:1 on treated sites in the final year of the project.

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