Model Predicts Eradication of Large Invasive Mammals Using Gene DriveJuly 27, 2022
Invasive alien mammals are one of the main drivers of fauna and flora species extinctions, having a significant impact on the environment and ecosystems. In order to evaluate the potential of applying gene drive tools to revert biodiversity loss, researchers from the University of Adelaide showed how demography and life-history traits interact to determine the scalability of gene drives for vertebrate pest eradication, such as mice, rats, rabbits, feral cats and red foxes.
The researchers used a mathematical landscape-scale individual-based model to estimate the time it would take to eradicate the said invasive alien mammals. The model showed that the X-shredder drive could potentially achieve landscape-scale eradication, but the probability of success and the time required to eradicate them would vary greatly amongst small-bodied and large-bodied species. The expected time of eradication for a population of 200,000 individuals in mice is 18 years, while it is 19 years for rats and 48 years for rabbits, with 90% population suppression achieved in around half those times. On the other hand, the probability of eradicating feral cats with gene drives is 50% and it could take about 140 years, according to Dr. Aysegul Birand, part of the research team.
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