We talking managing feral pigs. This particular story comes from New Zealand where they know that feral pigs cause serious damage to rainforest ecosystems through their ‘rooting’ behavior (read: soil disturbance – not that kind of ‘rooting‘).
Problem is – control is expensive, eradication impossible, control is expensive, pigs are difficult to count in dense vegetation, control is expensive, thresholds unknown…. Oh, and did I mention control is expensive?
Of course, it’s not really expensive relative to some other things governments invest money in, but in a world where funds are limited, you need to make sure you are maximizing the benefits for every dollar spent.
That’s what eco-economic-ologist Cheryl and her team were aiming to do by monitoring a feral pig control program near Auckland. They looked at how many pigs were killed, ecological benefits (how much soil disturbance), and total costs to inform a model that would predict the most cost-effective approach.
Their main conclusion was that How many feral pigs did we kill? was the wrong question to ask, and we should instead be focussing on the ecological outcomes. Feral pigs were reduced by over one-third. Great! But the assoicated ground disturbance was more than halved! Awesome.
For the actual science of this story, you should definitely read the paper (it’s open access) and contact the authors if you have any questions
Krull CR, Stanley MC, Burn BR, Choquenot D & Etherington TR (2016) Reducing wildlife damage with cost-effective management programmes. PLoS ONE 11: e0146765.
K!E#16 by Luke S. O’Loughlin
This comic was made after Margaret Stanely won a re-tweet competition thingy on Twitter that I ran to promote KAPOW! ECOLOGY’s Facebook page. Check out this video to watch the draw as it happened and remember you can always get in contact with me if you have a paper you think would work well as a KAPOW! ECOLOGY comic!