Field methods for rodent studies in Asia and the Indo-Pacific

Authors: Ken Aplin, Peter Brown, Jens Jacob, Charley Krebs & Grant Singleton

Audience: Rodent researchers and managers in Asia and Pacific region; rodent researchers around the globe

Rodents are a dominant group of mammals. There are more than 2,700 species of rodents worldwide; in fact, 42% of all the mammal species on earth are rodents. Two thirds of the rodent species belong to just one family, the Muridae, and most of the rodents found in Asia, both pests and non-pests, belong to this family.

Most rodents are prolific breeders and they often represent a significant amount of the animal biomass in forests and other natural ecosystems. As such, they play an important role in the food web, both as consumers of plants and fungi, and as a food resource for many of the larger predators. They are also important environmental engineers, helping to spread pollen and seed, aerating the soil through their digging and burrowing activities, and in extreme cases (e.g. beavers), changing the whole nature of the landscape. These ecological benefits are sometimes called “ecosystem services”.

Less than 10% of rodents are significant pests in agricultural or urban environments. Unfortunately, the people that created this environment generally view the successful rodents in a different light. Indeed, in almost all societies, the rodent species found around houses and in fields are viewed as ‘pests’ or even as ‘vermin’. And often with just cause – the rodents consume and spoil crops in the field and in storage bins, they damage household possessions and even buildings and roads, and they play an often overlooked but highly significant role in the transmission of various diseases.
This book covers experimental design of field experiments on rodents, introduces ecologically-based rodent management, and describes field methodologies (including breeding biology, population dynamics, monitoring of movements, diseases studies, damage assessment) and sociological tools. The last chapter provides a summary of the identification, distribution and biology of the main pest species in Asia and the Pacific.