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Glen Innes, Australia

Croft P.,University of New England of Australia | Croft P.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Reid N.,University of New England of Australia | Hunter J.T.,University of New England of Australia
Wildlife Research

Context: Fallen timber is a key habitat feature in forests and woodlands for vertebrate and invertebrate fauna, and is either consumed or left partially burnt after the passage of fire. This impact on habitat quality assumes significance because increasing areas of land are subject to frequent hazard-reduction burning and wildfire in eastern Australia. Aims We test here whether partially burnt or charred fallen timber is employed as habitat to the same extent as unburnt fallen timber. Methods Vertebrate and invertebrate abundance beneath burnt and unburnt fence posts was monitored for 13 months in unburnt forest and forest burnt by a wildfire. Key results Both vertebrate and invertebrate fauna made significantly less use of charred refuges. In most taxa, twice as many animals occurred under unburnt as under burnt artificial timber refuges, ant nests being the exception. Fauna made greater use of experimental refuges in burnt forest. Key conclusions Partially burnt fallen-timber refuges, where the log surface is left charred, are inferior habitat for fauna. Habitat quality in burnt forest may be enhanced by introducing fallen timber. Implications The study highlights an ecological consequence of fire for habitat quality, whether through wildfire or hazard-reduction burning, which should be considered in fire management. © 2010 CSIRO. Source

Wallis I.R.,Australian National University | Claridge A.W.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Claridge A.W.,Australian Defence Force Academy | Trappe J.M.,Oregon State University | Trappe J.M.,CSIRO
Fungal Biology

Fungi comprise a major part of the diet of many animals. Even so, the nutritional value of fungi has been much debated, with some arguing that fungi are nutritionally poor. However, the chemical composition of fungi and of the biology of the animals that eat them are not well understood, particularly in reference to amino acid (AA) composition of fungi and digestibility of fungal protein. We analysed fibre, total nitrogen (N), available N, and AA contents and measured in vitro digestibility of a wide range of epigeous and hypogeous fungi collected in Australia and the USA to test three hypotheses: (i) fungi are nutritionally poor because they contain few nutrients or are otherwise of low digestibility, (ii) fungi vary substantially in their nutritional composition; and (iii) animals can counter this variable quality by eating diverse taxa. Resultant data indicate many fungi are a reasonable source of AAs and digestible nitrogen. However, they vary highly between species in AA content, and the protein has a poor balance of digestible AAs. This helps explain why many mycophagous animals eat a wide array of fungi and often have digestive strategies to cope with fungi, such as foregut fermentation. Another common strategy is to supplement the diet with high quality protein, such as insect protein. Accordingly, evaluating nutritional value of fungi requires consideration of physiology of the animal species and their whole diet. © 2012 British Mycological Society. Source

Trappe J.M.,Oregon State University | Trappe J.M.,CSIRO | Kovacs G.M.,Eotvos Lorand University | Claridge A.W.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Claridge A.W.,Australian Defence Force Academy
Mycological Progress

Seven truffle species are reported from the Australian Outback-six Ascomycota (Elderia arenivaga, Mattirolomyces mulpu sp. nov., Mycoclelandia arenacea, M. bulundari, Reddelomyces westraliensis, Ulurua nonparaphysata gen. & sp. nov.) and one Basidiomycota (Horakiella watarrkana sp. nov.) Three Ascomycota species are redescribed from the African Kalahari (Eremiomyces echinulatus, Kalaharituber pfeilii and Mattirolomyces austroafricanus comb. nov.). The phylogenetic analyses of nrDNA of the Australian Ascomycota provided strong support for placement of all but one in the Pezizaceae (Reddellomyces belongs in the Tuberaceae), as is true of most, if not all, other ascomycetous desert truffles. These genetic results also highlight that the genus Mattirolomyces is more taxonomically, ecologically, and geographically diverse than previously realized. © German Mycological Society and Springer 2009. Source

Paull D.J.,Australian Defence Force Academy | Claridge A.W.,Australian Defence Force Academy | Claridge A.W.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Barry S.C.,CSIRO
Wildlife Research

Context Reliable information about the occurrence and distribution of threatened forest-dwelling mammals is critical for developing effective conservation plans. To optimise limited resources, advances need to be made to the toolkit available for detecting rare and cryptic fauna. Aims We trialled three bait attractants (peanut butter with oats, live mealworms and black truffle oil) in combination with infrared digital cameras to determine whether detection rates of forest-dwelling native mammals in south-eastern Australia were influenced by: (1) bait type; (2) previous visits by conspecifics; (3) previous visits by Rattus; and (4) duration of bait deployment. Methods Bait attractants were set at 40 camera stations in combination with odourless controls. Over two fortnight-long deployments, 1327 images were captured of 22 mammal and bird species. From these data, detailed statistical analyses were conducted of six mammal genera. Key results Peanut butter with oats was found to be a significantly better attractant than empty bait holders for Antechinus, Isoodon, Perameles and Rattus, but not for Potorous or Pseudocheirus. Truffle oil and mealworms were also significantly better attractants than the control for Rattus but not the other five genera. When Antechinus, Isoodon, Potorous or Rattus were detected at a bait station there was a significant likelihood they had been detected there during the previous 24h. This was not the case for Perameles or Pseudocheirus. A prior visit by Rattus to a station had no significant influence on the detection probabilities of Antechinus, Isoodon, Perameles, Potorous and Pseudocheirus during the subsequent 24h. Detection probabilities for Isoodon and Rattus declined significantly during the fortnight-long deployments but trends for the other genera were not significant. Conclusions Peanut butter with oats is an excellent general purpose bait for detecting small to medium-sized mammals. However, scope exists for using other baits to target species. For example, truffle oil baits may reduce by-catch of non-target Rattus in labour intensive cage trapping of bandicoots. Regardless of bait type, longer deployments are necessary to detect Perameles, Potorous or Pseudocheirus than Antechinus, Isoodon or Rattus. Implications Targeted detection of predominantly ground-dwelling mammals may be improved by better understanding the attraction of species to baits and required bait deployment times. © CSIRO 2011. Source

Claridge A.W.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Claridge A.W.,University of New South Wales
Australian Mammalogy

Australian Mammalogy has recently published papers by Fleming et al. (2012) and Johnson and Ritchie (2013). While not diametrically opposed, these papers variously question the notion that wild dogs can help suppress and/or regulate the activity and abundance of foxes and feral cats. They examine the evidence, or lack thereof, for support of the hypothesis. In doing so, it is clear from both papers that (1) hard experimental data to support or refute the hypothesis are mostly lacking, and (2) supporting or refuting the hypothesis is largely contingent on analyses and reanalyses of correlative evidence. Johnson and Ritchie (2013) inadvertently misinterpreted the results of a third study but they were not privy to additional information from that work that does not support their view. The main purpose of this paper is to, first, point out that information, and, second, to argue that until further experimental work is conducted, continuing to define the role and relative importance of wild dogs in Australian landscapes and applying that knowledge in a management setting will be difficult. © 2013 Australian Mammal Society. Source

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