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The black rat is among the world's worst vertebrate pests. Yet very little is known of its impacts or potential impacts on biodiversity in Australian ecosystems. In this paper we examine the impacts of black rats on biodiversity values at North Head, Sydney where a wildlife sanctuary is planned in an area with an abundant black rat population. We examined impacts on three key biodiversity elements considered flagships for the sanctuary concept: the endangered wattle Acacia terminalis, seedlings of which are vulnerable to rat grazing; the nests of small passerine birds which are vulnerable to rat predation; and the endangered population of long-nosed bandicoots Peramales nasuta, vulnerable to competition from black rats. Caging experiments using artificial seedling patches in recently burnt areas showed that rabbits or long-nosed bandicoots rather than black rats were the biggest grazing threat to A. terminalis. Similarly, although rats preyed on experimental artificial nests, nest predation was caused largely by other birds. An intensive trapping study showed a negative spatial relationship between black rats and long-nosed bandicoots at both macrohabitat and microhabitat scales in urban areas, suggesting some avoidance may occur. Thus rat impacts on sunshine wattle and birds nests currently appear to be small in comparison to impacts from other fauna, but an increase in the black rat population may heighten their impacts. It is also possible that black rats affect conservation values not measured here and the negative spatial interaction between black rats and long-nosed bandicoots warrants further investigation.

Alerstam, T. and Högstedt, G. 1981. Evolution of hole-nesting in birds. Ornis Scandinavica 12: 188-193.
Armstrong, D.P. and Pyke, G.H. 1991. Seasonal patterns of reproduction in heathland honeyeaters are not responses to changing nectar availability. The Auk 108: 99-107.
Auld, T.D. and O'Connell, M.A. 1991. Predicting patterns of post-fire germination in 35 eastern Australian Fabacaea. Australian Journal of Ecology 16(1): 53-70.
Banks, P.B. 2004. Population viability analysis in urban wildlife management: modelling management options for Sydney's quarantined bandicoots. Pp 70-77 in Urban Wildlife: more than meets the eye, edited by D. Lunney and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Barker, R.D. 1987. The diets of herbivores in the sheep rangeland. Pp 69-83 in Kangaroos: their ecology and management in sheep rangelands, edited by G. Caughley, N. Shepherd, and J. Short. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Barnett, J.L., How, R.A. and Humphreys, W.F. 1978. The use of habitat components by small mammals in eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 3(3): 277-285.
Benson, D. and McDougall, L. 1996. Ecology of Sydney Plant Species, Part 4 Dicotyledon family Fabaceae. Cunninghamia 4(4). Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney, Sydney.
Berry, L. 2001. Breeding biology and nesting success of the Eastern Yellow Robin and the New Holland Honeyeater in a southern Victorian woodland. Emu 101: 191-197.
Berry, L. 2002. Predation rates of artificial nests in the edge and interior of a southern Victorian forest. Wildlife Research 29: 341-345.
Berry, L. and Lill, A. 2003. Do predation rates on artificial nests accurately predict predation rates on natural nests? The effects of nest type, egg type and nest-site characteristics. Emu 103: 207-214.
Bray, M. 1994 Habitat use by the black rat, Rattus rattus (Rodentia: Muridae) at North Head, NSW. Graduate Diploma Thesis, University of Sydney.
Brown, P.R. 2005. The effect of simulated house mouse damage to wheat in Australia. Crop Protection 24: 101-109.
Brunner, H., Triggs, B. and Ecobyte Pty Ltd 2002 Hair ID: an interactive tool for identifying Australian mammalian hair. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.
Campbell, E.W. 1991. The effect of introduced roof rats on bird diversity of Antillean cays. Journal of Field Ornithology 62(3): 343-348.
Capps, R. 2001 Habitat use by the introduced European black rat (Rattus rattus) in urban bushland in Northern Sydney, NSW. Honours Thesis, Australian Catholic University.
Chambers L.K. and Dickman C.R. 2002. Habitat selection of the long-nosed bandicoot, Perameles nasuta (Mammalia, Peramelidae), in a patchy urban environment. Austral Ecology 27(3): 334-342.
Clark, D.A. 1981. Foraging patterns of black rats across a desert-montane forest gradient in the Galapagos Islands. Biotropica 13: 182-294.
Clark, D.A. 1982. Foraging behaviour of a vertebrate omnivore ( Rattus rattus): meal structure, sampling and diet breadth. Ecology 63(3): 763-772.
Cohn, J.S. and Bradstock, R.A. 2000. Factors affecting post-fire seedling establishment of selected mallee understorey species. Australian Journal of Botany 48(1): 59-70.
Cox, M. 1997 Habitat use by the Black Rat, Rattus rattus (Rodentia: Muridae) at North Head, NSW. Honours Thesis, University of Sydney.
Cox, M.P.G., Dickman, C.R. and Cox, W.G. 2000. Use of habitat by the black rat ( Rattus rattus) at North Head, New South Wales: an observational and experimental study. Austral Ecology 25: 375-385.
Crawley, M.J. 1983 Herbivory: the dynamics of animal-plant interactions. University of California Press, Los Angeles, USA.
Downes, S.J., Handasyde, K.A. and Elgar, M.A. 1997. Variation in the use of corridors by introduced and native rodents in south-eastern Australia. Biological Conservation 82: 397-383.
Greenwood, J.J.D. 1985. Comments on hole-nesting in birds. Ornis Scandinavica 16: 153-158.
Hannon, S.J. and Cotterill, S.E. 1998. Nest predation in aspen woodlots in an agricultural area in Alberta: the enemy from within. The Auk 115(1): 16-25.
Hartley, M.J. and Hunter, M.L. 1998. A meta-analysis of forest cover, edge effects and artificial nest predation rates. Conservation Biology 12(2): 465-469.
Hughes, N. 2002 Sex, size and scale dependent habitat selection by urban bandicoots: can their high quality habitat be defined? Honours Thesis, University of New South Wales.
Hulme, P.E. 1996. Herbivores and the performance of grassland plants: a comparison of arthropod, mollusk and rodent herbivory. Journal of Ecology 84: 43-51.
Irlbeck, N.A. and Hume, I. 2003. The role of acacia in the diets of Australian marsupials - a review. Australian Mammalogy 25(2): 121-134.
Lenehan, J. and Banks, P.B. 2002 An analysis of the May 2004 North Head Long-nosed Bandicoot Population Census. Report for Department of Environment and Conservation Central Directorate Threatened Species Unit. Department of Environment and Conservation, Hurstville, NSW.
Long, J.L. 2003 Introduced Mammals of the World: their damage, distribution and influence. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
Major, R. and Gowing, G. 1994. Photographic Identification of Nest Predators. Wildlife Research 21: 657-66.
Martin, T. E., Scott, J. and Menge, C. 2000. Nest predation increases with parental activity: separating nest site and parental activity effects. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 267: 2287-2293.
Matthews, A., Dickman, C.R., and Major, R.E. 1999. The influence of fragment size and edge on nest predation in urban bushland. Ecography 22: 349-356.
Miller, R. and Puddephatt, J. 1996 Population biology of the long-nosed bandicoot, Perameles nasuta, at North Head, Sydney, NSW. Graduate Diploma Thesis, University of Sydney.
Morcombe, M. 2003 Field Guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing, Archerfield.
Moyle, D.I., Hume, I.D. and Hill, D.M. 1995. Digestive performance and selective digesta retention in the long-nosed bandicoot, Perameles nasuta, a small omnivorous marsupial. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 164: 552-560.
Norman, F.I. 1970. Food preferences of an insular population of Rattus rattus. Journal of Zoology, London 162: 493-503.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2004a Acacia terminalis subsp. terminalis - endangered species listing. Accessed from NPWS website (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/content/acacia+terminalis+a+shrub+-+endangered+species+listing) on 2 July 2004.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2004b. Sydney Harbour National Park Native Animals. Accessed from NPWS website (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/parks.nsf/ParkContent/N0039?OpenDocumentandParkKey=N0039andType=N) on 27 October 2004.
Ostfield, R.S., Manson, R.H. and Canham, C.D. 1997. The effects of rodents on survival of tree seeds and seedlings invading old fields. Ecology 78(5): 1531-1542.
Packard, G.C. and Boardman, T.J. 1988. The misuse of ratios, indices, and percentages in ecophysiological research. Physiological Zoology 61: 1-9.
Parsons, H.M. and Major, R.E. 2004. Bird interactions in Sydney gardens: some initial findings of the Birds in Backyards program. Pp 211-215 in Urban Wildlife: more than meets the eye, edited by D. Lunney and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW.
Pickering, J. and Norris, C. A. 1996. New evidence concerning the extinction of the endemic murid Rattus macleari from Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Australian Mammalogy 19(1): 19-25.
Pye, T. Swain, R. and Seppelt, R.D. 1999. Distribution and habitat use of the feral black rat ( Rattus rattus) on subantarctic Macquarie Island. Journal of Zoology, London 247: 429-438.
Ricklefs, R.E. 1969. An analysis of nesting mortality in birds. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 9: 1-48.
Robinson, L. 1994 Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney. Second Edition. Kangaroo Press, East Roseville.
Rose, T.A. 2004 An analysis of the black rat (Rattus rattus) at Sydney's North Head: population structure, impacts and implications for control. Honours thesis, University of New South Wales.
Saunders, D., Hobbs, R.J., and Margules, C.R. 1991. Biological Consequences of Ecosystem Fragmentation: A Review. Conservation Biology 5(1): 19-32.
Scott, L.K., Hume, I.D. and Dickman, C.R. 1999. Ecology and population biology of long-nosed bandicoots ( Perameles nasuta) at North Head, Sydney Harbour National Park. Wildlife Research 26: 805-821.
Skelton, N., Richmond, O., Gilson, T. and Wong, P. 2003a Fauna of North Head. GIS Environmental Consultants, North Curl Curl.
Skelton, N., Richmond, O., Gilson, T. and Wong, P. 2003b. Flora of North Head. GIS Environmental Consultants, North Curl Curl.
Stodart, E. 1995. Long-nosed Bandicoot. Pp 184-185 in The Mammals of Australia, edited by R. Strahan. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
Storaas, T. 1988. A comparison of losses in artificial and naturally occurring Capercaillie nests. Journal of Wildlife Management 52: 123-126.
Underwood, A.J. 1997 Experiments in Ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Watts, C.H.S. and Aslin, H.J. 1981 The Rodents of Australia. Angus and Robertson Publishers, Sydney.
Watts, C.H.S. and Braithwaite, R.W. 1978. The diet of Rattus lutreolus and five other rodents in southern Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 5: 47-57.
Watts, C.H.S. 1995. Black Rat. Pp 659-660 in The Mammals of Australia, edited by R. Strahan. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
Willebrand, T. and Marcström, V. 1988. On the danger of using dummy nests to study predation. The Auk 105: 378-379.
Williams, R.L., Singleton, G.R. and Dickman, C.R. 2003. The role of interspecific competition in determining macrohabitat use by the black rat and brown rat at Bradley's Head, NSW. Pp 366-369 in Rats, Mice and People: rodent biology and management, edited by G. Singleton, L.A. Hinds, C.J. Krebs and D.M. Spratt. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra.
Wilson, D.J., Lee, W.G., Webster, R.A. and Allen, R.B. 2003. Effects of possums and rats on seedling establishment at two forest sites in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 27(2): 147-155.
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Alerstam, T. and Högstedt, G. 1981. Evolution of hole-nesting in birds. Ornis Scandinavica 12: 188-193.
Armstrong, D.P. and Pyke, G.H. 1991. Seasonal patterns of reproduction in heathland honeyeaters are not responses to changing nectar availability. The Auk 108: 99-107.
Auld, T.D. and O'Connell, M.A. 1991. Predicting patterns of post-fire germination in 35 eastern Australian Fabacaea. Australian Journal of Ecology 16(1): 53-70.
Banks, P.B. 2004. Population viability analysis in urban wildlife management: modelling management options for Sydney's quarantined bandicoots. Pp 70-77 in Urban Wildlife: more than meets the eye, edited by D. Lunney and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.
Barker, R.D. 1987. The diets of herbivores in the sheep rangeland. Pp 69-83 in Kangaroos: their ecology and management in sheep rangelands, edited by G. Caughley, N. Shepherd, and J. Short. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Barnett, J.L., How, R.A. and Humphreys, W.F. 1978. The use of habitat components by small mammals in eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 3(3): 277-285.
Benson, D. and McDougall, L. 1996. Ecology of Sydney Plant Species, Part 4 Dicotyledon family Fabaceae. Cunninghamia 4(4). Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney, Sydney.
Berry, L. 2001. Breeding biology and nesting success of the Eastern Yellow Robin and the New Holland Honeyeater in a southern Victorian woodland. Emu 101: 191-197.
Berry, L. 2002. Predation rates of artificial nests in the edge and interior of a southern Victorian forest. Wildlife Research 29: 341-345.
Berry, L. and Lill, A. 2003. Do predation rates on artificial nests accurately predict predation rates on natural nests? The effects of nest type, egg type and nest-site characteristics. Emu 103: 207-214.
Bray, M. 1994 Habitat use by the black rat, Rattus rattus (Rodentia: Muridae) at North Head, NSW. Graduate Diploma Thesis, University of Sydney.
Brown, P.R. 2005. The effect of simulated house mouse damage to wheat in Australia. Crop Protection 24: 101-109.
Brunner, H., Triggs, B. and Ecobyte Pty Ltd 2002 Hair ID: an interactive tool for identifying Australian mammalian hair. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.
Campbell, E.W. 1991. The effect of introduced roof rats on bird diversity of Antillean cays. Journal of Field Ornithology 62(3): 343-348.
Capps, R. 2001 Habitat use by the introduced European black rat (Rattus rattus) in urban bushland in Northern Sydney, NSW. Honours Thesis, Australian Catholic University.
Chambers L.K. and Dickman C.R. 2002. Habitat selection of the long-nosed bandicoot, Perameles nasuta (Mammalia, Peramelidae), in a patchy urban environment. Austral Ecology 27(3): 334-342.
Clark, D.A. 1981. Foraging patterns of black rats across a desert-montane forest gradient in the Galapagos Islands. Biotropica 13: 182-294.
Clark, D.A. 1982. Foraging behaviour of a vertebrate omnivore ( Rattus rattus): meal structure, sampling and diet breadth. Ecology 63(3): 763-772.
Cohn, J.S. and Bradstock, R.A. 2000. Factors affecting post-fire seedling establishment of selected mallee understorey species. Australian Journal of Botany 48(1): 59-70.
Cox, M. 1997 Habitat use by the Black Rat, Rattus rattus (Rodentia: Muridae) at North Head, NSW. Honours Thesis, University of Sydney.
Cox, M.P.G., Dickman, C.R. and Cox, W.G. 2000. Use of habitat by the black rat ( Rattus rattus) at North Head, New South Wales: an observational and experimental study. Austral Ecology 25: 375-385.
Crawley, M.J. 1983 Herbivory: the dynamics of animal-plant interactions. University of California Press, Los Angeles, USA.
Downes, S.J., Handasyde, K.A. and Elgar, M.A. 1997. Variation in the use of corridors by introduced and native rodents in south-eastern Australia. Biological Conservation 82: 397-383.
Greenwood, J.J.D. 1985. Comments on hole-nesting in birds. Ornis Scandinavica 16: 153-158.
Hannon, S.J. and Cotterill, S.E. 1998. Nest predation in aspen woodlots in an agricultural area in Alberta: the enemy from within. The Auk 115(1): 16-25.
Hartley, M.J. and Hunter, M.L. 1998. A meta-analysis of forest cover, edge effects and artificial nest predation rates. Conservation Biology 12(2): 465-469.
Hughes, N. 2002 Sex, size and scale dependent habitat selection by urban bandicoots: can their high quality habitat be defined? Honours Thesis, University of New South Wales.
Hulme, P.E. 1996. Herbivores and the performance of grassland plants: a comparison of arthropod, mollusk and rodent herbivory. Journal of Ecology 84: 43-51.
Irlbeck, N.A. and Hume, I. 2003. The role of acacia in the diets of Australian marsupials - a review. Australian Mammalogy 25(2): 121-134.
Lenehan, J. and Banks, P.B. 2002 An analysis of the May 2004 North Head Long-nosed Bandicoot Population Census. Report for Department of Environment and Conservation Central Directorate Threatened Species Unit. Department of Environment and Conservation, Hurstville, NSW.
Long, J.L. 2003 Introduced Mammals of the World: their damage, distribution and influence. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
Major, R. and Gowing, G. 1994. Photographic Identification of Nest Predators. Wildlife Research 21: 657-66.
Martin, T. E., Scott, J. and Menge, C. 2000. Nest predation increases with parental activity: separating nest site and parental activity effects. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 267: 2287-2293.
Matthews, A., Dickman, C.R., and Major, R.E. 1999. The influence of fragment size and edge on nest predation in urban bushland. Ecography 22: 349-356.
Miller, R. and Puddephatt, J. 1996 Population biology of the long-nosed bandicoot, Perameles nasuta, at North Head, Sydney, NSW. Graduate Diploma Thesis, University of Sydney.
Morcombe, M. 2003 Field Guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing, Archerfield.
Moyle, D.I., Hume, I.D. and Hill, D.M. 1995. Digestive performance and selective digesta retention in the long-nosed bandicoot, Perameles nasuta, a small omnivorous marsupial. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 164: 552-560.
Norman, F.I. 1970. Food preferences of an insular population of Rattus rattus. Journal of Zoology, London 162: 493-503.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2004a Acacia terminalis subsp. terminalis - endangered species listing. Accessed from NPWS website (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/npws.nsf/content/acacia+terminalis+a+shrub+-+endangered+species+listing) on 2 July 2004.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2004b. Sydney Harbour National Park Native Animals. Accessed from NPWS website (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/parks.nsf/ParkContent/N0039?OpenDocumentandParkKey=N0039andType=N) on 27 October 2004.
Ostfield, R.S., Manson, R.H. and Canham, C.D. 1997. The effects of rodents on survival of tree seeds and seedlings invading old fields. Ecology 78(5): 1531-1542.
Packard, G.C. and Boardman, T.J. 1988. The misuse of ratios, indices, and percentages in ecophysiological research. Physiological Zoology 61: 1-9.
Parsons, H.M. and Major, R.E. 2004. Bird interactions in Sydney gardens: some initial findings of the Birds in Backyards program. Pp 211-215 in Urban Wildlife: more than meets the eye, edited by D. Lunney and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW.
Pickering, J. and Norris, C. A. 1996. New evidence concerning the extinction of the endemic murid Rattus macleari from Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Australian Mammalogy 19(1): 19-25.
Pye, T. Swain, R. and Seppelt, R.D. 1999. Distribution and habitat use of the feral black rat ( Rattus rattus) on subantarctic Macquarie Island. Journal of Zoology, London 247: 429-438.
Ricklefs, R.E. 1969. An analysis of nesting mortality in birds. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 9: 1-48.
Robinson, L. 1994 Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney. Second Edition. Kangaroo Press, East Roseville.
Rose, T.A. 2004 An analysis of the black rat (Rattus rattus) at Sydney's North Head: population structure, impacts and implications for control. Honours thesis, University of New South Wales.
Saunders, D., Hobbs, R.J., and Margules, C.R. 1991. Biological Consequences of Ecosystem Fragmentation: A Review. Conservation Biology 5(1): 19-32.
Scott, L.K., Hume, I.D. and Dickman, C.R. 1999. Ecology and population biology of long-nosed bandicoots ( Perameles nasuta) at North Head, Sydney Harbour National Park. Wildlife Research 26: 805-821.
Skelton, N., Richmond, O., Gilson, T. and Wong, P. 2003a Fauna of North Head. GIS Environmental Consultants, North Curl Curl.
Skelton, N., Richmond, O., Gilson, T. and Wong, P. 2003b. Flora of North Head. GIS Environmental Consultants, North Curl Curl.
Stodart, E. 1995. Long-nosed Bandicoot. Pp 184-185 in The Mammals of Australia, edited by R. Strahan. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
Storaas, T. 1988. A comparison of losses in artificial and naturally occurring Capercaillie nests. Journal of Wildlife Management 52: 123-126.
Underwood, A.J. 1997 Experiments in Ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Watts, C.H.S. and Aslin, H.J. 1981 The Rodents of Australia. Angus and Robertson Publishers, Sydney.
Watts, C.H.S. and Braithwaite, R.W. 1978. The diet of Rattus lutreolus and five other rodents in southern Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 5: 47-57.
Watts, C.H.S. 1995. Black Rat. Pp 659-660 in The Mammals of Australia, edited by R. Strahan. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
Willebrand, T. and Marcström, V. 1988. On the danger of using dummy nests to study predation. The Auk 105: 378-379.
Williams, R.L., Singleton, G.R. and Dickman, C.R. 2003. The role of interspecific competition in determining macrohabitat use by the black rat and brown rat at Bradley's Head, NSW. Pp 366-369 in Rats, Mice and People: rodent biology and management, edited by G. Singleton, L.A. Hinds, C.J. Krebs and D.M. Spratt. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra.
Wilson, D.J., Lee, W.G., Webster, R.A. and Allen, R.B. 2003. Effects of possums and rats on seedling establishment at two forest sites in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 27(2): 147-155.
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