The potential importance of nut removal by rodents from Australian macadamia orchards

J Environ Manage. 2005 Oct;77(1):79-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2005.03.004.


Extensive crop damage due to rodents, predominantly the black rat (Rattus rattus) is a major concern to both the Hawaiian and Australian macadamia industries. Within Australian systems, indicated the importance of adjacent non-crop habitats in the damage process with damage being directly related to the size and temporal stability of these habitats. It was also suggested that the current estimates of crop loss might be underestimates as R. rattus may remove nuts into adjacent non-crop habitats, however, the economic significance of nut removal was not investigated. This study has determined that the crop loss due to nut removal is equivalent to the crop loss due to in-crop feeding within the first row of the orchard, with nuts being removed and consumed under the cover provided by weedy adjacent habitats. Previous studies (White et al.,1997; Horskins et al.,1998; White et al.,1998) investigating the impact of rodents on crop damage have ignored the nut removal component of the damage process and hence rodents have a far greater impact on the Australian macadamia industry than previously suggested. This study also indicates that the cost-benefit of habitat manipulation as a rodent management strategy is much greater than that suggested by . Habitat manipulation is not only a cost-effective means of damage control but is also sustainable, having none of the potentially adverse public health and environmental effects of continual rodenticide use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Crops, Agricultural*
  • Macadamia / growth & development*
  • Pest Control / economics
  • Pest Control / methods*
  • Queensland
  • Rats
  • Rodentia