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Developing fertility control for rodents: a framework forresearchers and practitioners

University of York, Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control, Department of Environment and Geography, UK
Massei, Giovanna;
Julius Kühn-Institute (JKI), Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics, Germany
Jacob, Jens;
CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Australia
Hinds, Lyn A.

Fertility control is often heralded as a humane and effective technique for management of overabundant wildlife, including rodents. The intention is to reduce the use of lethal and inhumane methods, increase farm productivity and food security as well as reduce disease transmission, particularly of zoonoses. We developed a framework to guide researchers and stakeholders planning to assess the effectiveness of a potential contraceptive agent for a particular species. Our guidelines describe the overarching research questions which must be sequentially addressed to ensure adequate data are collected so that a contraceptive can be registered for use in broad-scale rodent management. The framework indicates that studies should be undertaken iteratively and, at times, in parallel, with initial research being conducted on (1) laboratory-based captive assessments of contraceptive effects in individuals; (2) simulation of contraceptive delivery using bait markers and/or surgical sterilization of different proportions of a field-based or enclosure population to determine how population dynamics are affected; (3) development of mathematical models which predict the outcomes of different fertility control scenarios; and (4) implementation of large-scale, replicated trials to validate contraceptive efficacy under various management-scale field situations. In some circumstances, fertility control may be most effective when integrated with other methods (e.g. some culling). Assessment of non-target effects, direct and indirect, and the environmental fate of the contraceptive must also be determined. Developing fertility control for a species is a resource-intensive commitment but will likely be less costly than the ongoing environmental and economic impacts by rodents and rodenticides in many contexts.



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License Holder: 2023 Julius Kuhn-Institut, CSIRO Health and Biosecurity and The Authors. Integrative Zoologypublished by International Society of Zoological Sciences, Institute of Zoology/Chinese Academy ofSciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

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