The status of fertility control for rodents-recent achievements and future directions
Hinds, Lyn A.
|4-VINYLCYCLOHEXENE DIEPOXIDE; ECOLOGICAL BASIS; ecologically based rodent management; HOUSE MICE; LESSER BANDICOOT RAT; LEVONORGESTREL; POPULATION OUTBREAKS; QUINESTROL; STERILIZATION; TRIPTOLIDE; VIRALLY VECTORED IMMUNOCONTRACEPTION; Zoology
Management of overabundant rodents at a landscape scale is complex but often required to sustainably reduce rodent abundance below damage thresholds. Current conventional techniques such as poisoning are not species specific, with some approaches becoming increasingly unacceptable to the general public. Fertility control, first proposed for vertebrate pest management over 5 decades ago, has gained public acceptance because it is perceived as a potentially more species-specific and humane approach compared with many lethal methods. An ideal fertility control agent needs to induce infertility across one or more breeding seasons, be easily delivered to an appropriate proportion of the population, be species specific with minimal side-effects (behavioral or social structure changes), and be environmentally benign and cost effective. To date, effective fertility control of rodents has not been demonstrated at landscape scales and very few products have achieved registration. Reproductive targets for fertility control include disrupting the hormonal feedback associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, gonad function, fertilization, and/or early implantation. We review progress on the oral delivery of various agents for which laboratory studies have demonstrated efficacy in females and/or males and synthesize progress with the development and/or use of synthetic steroids, plant extracts, ovarian specific peptides, and immunocontraceptive vaccines. There are promising results for field application of synthetic steroids (levonorgestrel, quinestrol), chemosterilants (4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide), and some plant extracts (triptolide). For most fertility control agents, more research is essential to enable their efficient and cost-effective delivery such that rodent impacts at a population level are mitigated and food security is improved.
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