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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rodent Cycles and Outbreaks in Asia: Biological Curios and Food Security


In Asia, rodents are known to be one of the main constraints to agricultural production where losses of just 6% of the rice crop (35 million tons) are enough to feed 230 million people for one year. Rodent cycles and outbreaks in Asia can lead to severe crop losses and result in major food shortages. Multi-annual patterns in rodent populations (rodent cycles) have been recorded in Asia and have been shown to be linked to masting events of bamboo. One example of population cycles are those associated with the flowering of the bamboo Melocanna baccifera in Mizoram, India, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, and Chin State, Myanmar. Rodent outbreaks (non-cyclic) are common in Southeast Asia. These events are driven by availability of food and recently have been linked to extreme weather events that cause asynchrony of cropping. Rodents must be managed at a landscape level to help alleviate losses for the 4.1 billion people that rely on rice as their food staple.

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