Parks and Wildlife Group

Glen Innes, Australia

Parks and Wildlife Group

Glen Innes, Australia
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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 | Year: 2010

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.

Turner P.J.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Downey P.O.,Parks and Wildlife Group
Plant Protection Quarterly | Year: 2010

Alien plants are widely acknowledged as a major cause of biodiversity decline globally. However, details of which aspects of biodiversity is at risk from alien plant invasions has not been forthcoming. This has hampered alien plant management strategies from delivering biodiversity conservation, as control is not focused on the biodiversity most threatened. Here we describe a two-step approach which ensures that alien plant management delivers biodiversity conservation. This approach is presented through a case study using Lantana camara L. (lantana) invasions across Australia, and then discussed more broadly for management of other alien plants for the conservation of biodiversity. The first step identifies the native biodiversity at risk (native plant and animal species and ecological communities) and then the degree of threat to each. The second step assesses locations of the native biodiversity to determine priority sites for control. Using the first step, we identified 1321 native plant and 158 native animal species as being threatened by lantana in Australia. These species were then assessed for the current level of threat from lantana and prioritized based on their likelihood of changing their threatened status in the near future. This process revealed 275 native plant and 24 native animal species requiring immediate protection from lantana invasions within Australia. The results of this approach have now been used to develop a national management strategy that will focus lantana management towards biodiversity conservation.

Penman T.D.,Forest and Rangeland Ecosystems | Penman T.D.,Bushfire Cooperative Research Center | Beukers M.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Kavanagh R.P.,Forest and Rangeland Ecosystems | Doherty M.,CSIRO
Applied Vegetation Science | Year: 2011

Question: Are long-unburnt patches of eucalypt forest important for maintaining floristic diversity? Location: Eucalyptus forests of southeastern New South Wales, Australia. Methods: Data from 976 sites representing a range of fire history from three major vegetation formations - shrubby dry sclerophyll forest (SF), grassy dry SF and wet SF - were analysed. Generalized linear models were used to examine changes in species richness with increasing time since wildfire and analysis of similarities to examine changes in community composition. Chi-squared tests were conducted to examine the distribution of individual species across four time since fire categories. Results: Plant species relationships to fire varied between the three formations. Shrubby dry SF supported lower plant species richness with increasing time since wildfire and this was associated with shifts in community composition. Grassy dry SF showed significant shifts in community composition and species richness in relation to time, with a peak in plant species richness 20-30yr post fire (either prescribed fire or wildfire). Wet SF increased in species richness until 10-20yr post wildfire then displayed a general declining trend. Species richness in each vegetation type was not related to the fire frequencies and fire intervals observed in this study. Conclusions: Long-unburnt (30-50yr post wildfire) forests appeared to play a minor role in the maintenance of plant species diversity in dry forest systems, although this was more significant in wet forests. Maintenance of a range of fire ages within each vegetation formation will assist in maintaining floristic diversity within regions. © 2010 International Association for Vegetation Science.

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 | Year: 2011

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.

Trappe J.M.,Oregon State University | Trappe J.M.,CSIRO | Kovacs G.M.,Eötvös Loránd University | Claridge A.W.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Claridge A.W.,Australian Defence Force Academy
Mycological Progress | Year: 2010

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.

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 | Year: 2012

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.

Claridge A.W.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Claridge A.W.,University of New South Wales
Australian Mammalogy | Year: 2013

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.

Claridge A.W.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Claridge A.W.,Australian Defence Force Academy | Mills D.J.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Barry S.C.,CSIRO
Australian Mammalogy | Year: 2010

Predator scat analysis was used to infer the potential impact of wild dogs (Canis lupus dingo, C. l. familiaris and hybrids of the two) on threatened native terrestrial mammals in coastal and near-coastal southern New South Wales, Australia. Prey items recorded in wild dog scats were compared with those occurring in scats of the red fox collected at the same study sites. Six threatened mammal species were recorded in either wild dog or fox scats: eastern pygmy possum, grey-headed flying fox, long-nosed potoroo, southern brown bandicoot, white-footed dunnart and yellow-bellied glider. The prevalence of these threatened species in fox scats was significantly higher than in wild dog scats. Otherwise, wild dogs mostly consumed larger prey items such as swamp wallabies and wombats whereas foxes more heavily preyed on small mammals such as antechinus and rats. Our results suggest that foxes are the major threat to threatened mammal species in the study region. Land management agencies in south-eastern mainland Australia should therefore focus on controlling foxes for biodiversity gain. © Australian Mammal Society 2010.

Claridge A.W.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Claridge A.W.,Australian Defence Force Academy | Paull D.J.,Australian Defence Force Academy | Barry S.C.,CSIRO
Australian Mammalogy | Year: 2010

Infrared digital cameras were used to examine temporal detection rates of medium-sized ground-dwelling mammals in a coastal woodland landscape. From three successive deployments at fixed stations, a range of mammals was detected, including three target species: the long-nosed bandicoot, the long-nosed potoroo and the southern brown bandicoot. Reporting rates of target species were largely consistent and in some cases high. The swamp wallaby was the most commonly detected species, ranging from 47-67% of cameras on any given deployment. Long-nosed bandicoots were detected at 37-53% of cameras, long-nosed potoroos 13-23% and southern brown bandicoots 10-17%. In total, bandicoots and potoroos were detected at 23 of 30 sites (77%) while forage-diggings of these mammals were universally present. There were differences in the detection rate of bandicoots and potoroos in relation to 24-hourly cycles: all three species were less likely to be detected between dawn and dusk than dusk and dawn. Otherwise, with few exceptions, the rate at which bandicoots and potoroos were detected over time within a deployment did not vary markedly. Infrared digital cameras offer great potential as sampling devices for bandicoots and potoroos because of their greater detection efficiency relative to other techniques. © Australian Mammal Society 2010.

Claridge A.W.,Parks and Wildlife Group | Claridge A.W.,Australian Defence Force Academy | Cunningham R.B.,Australian National University | Catling P.C.,Street Capital | Reid A.M.,Street Capital
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2010

The relative activity of ground-dwelling vertebrates was monitored using tracks in sand plots for 10 consecutive years across three nearby study areas in south-eastern mainland Australia. Two areas were subject to intensive 1080 poison baiting for foxes, while one unbaited area acted as a control. At the two 1080 baited sites there was a demonstrable decline in the reporting rate of fox tracks, while that of feral cats also declined concomitantly. In contrast, the reporting rate of wild dog tracks did not change. At the unbaited site the reporting rate of wild dog tracks increased slightly, while that of foxes remained stable and that of feral cats declined slightly. Prevailing ecological theory would suggest that in systems where larger predators are reduced in activity or abundance, smaller predators should increase. This was not the case in our work. Instead, while the larger sized fox has decreased at baited sites, the smaller sized cat has declined at a regional scale, in all likelihood against a backdrop of long-term drought and diminished prey resources. Among the native omnivorous mammals that ordinarily fall prey to foxes, bandicoots, brushtail possums and lyrebirds increased in activity against a background of diminishing fox activity, although these effects were not uniform at both baited sites. In contrast, at the study area where foxes were not baited, the activity of bandicoots, brushtail possums and lyrebirds either did not change or diminished. Trends in the activity levels of these animals, particularly bandicoots, may have been moderated in part by prevailing rainfall conditions. Otherwise, habitat complexity may also help regulate activity patterns. Land managers concerned with preserving and enhancing biodiversity need to not only focus on the baiting of introduced predators but also be mindful of habitat condition and the effects of climate. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

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