Parks Victoria

Melbourne, Australia

Parks Victoria

Melbourne, Australia
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Paplinska J.Z.,University of Melbourne | Taggart D.A.,University of Adelaide | Corrigan T.,Parks Victoria | Eldridge M.D.B.,College St | And 2 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2011

Use of DNA from museum samples is a powerful tool to directly establish historical ESU boundaries in areas where populations of a species have been extirpated. The brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) has suffered extensive reductions in range and population size since European settlement in Australia. Populations of this species have been grouped into three putative evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) which were likely once contiguous along the south-east coast of Australia. However, there is currently a gap of ∼320. km between extant populations of the southern and central ESUs. Conservation plans for the brush-tailed rock-wallaby include re-introductions of animals to locations within their former range. In order to preserve the historic geographic integrity of the genetic lineages within the species, it is necessary to map the boundary between the southern ESU and central ESU to allow more informed management decisions about which lineages should be used to re-stock specific geographic locations. We have extracted DNA from samples from museum specimens that come from locations between the southernmost extant colony of the central ESU and the remaining wild colony of the southern ESU. We sequenced a 177. bp interval of the left domain of the mitochondrial DNA control region and used phylogenetic analysis to group obtained sequences with previously published sequences belonging to the three ESUs. We have extended the range of the central ESU southwards and the range of the southern ESU northwards such that the gap between the ESUs is now approximately 160. km. We recommend that, where suitable historical museum collections exist, this technique be incorporated into re-introduction plans for other threatened species. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Bassett O.D.,Forest Solutions | Prior L.D.,University of Tasmania | Slijkerman C.M.,Australian Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries | Jamieson D.,Parks Victoria | Bowman D.M.J.S.,University of Tasmania
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2015

Multiple fires in quick succession can cause an abrupt switch from forest to non-forest vegetation in some biomes. A prime example of such type conversion concerns alpine ash forests (Eucalyptus delegatensis subsp. delegatensis), which are endemic to the Australian Alps bioregion. These forests are long lived and can only regenerate following fire disturbance through the release of seed from the tree canopy, but complete regeneration failure of the eucalypt overstorey can occur if immature stands are subsequently reburnt. Wildfires in 2003, 2007 and 2009 burnt over 87% of the Alpine ash forest in Victoria, with some areas being burnt a second or third time within a decade by the 2013 Harrietville-Alpine Bushfire. Using aerial and field surveys we demonstrated that an area burnt two or three times in the Alpine National Park in Victoria would have resulted in loss of alpine ash forest were it not for an aerial sowing program. This sowing program used reduced sowing rates compared to those typically used in forestry silviculture operations in Victoria. Seedling establishment during the first year was lower on sown than natural seedfall areas but fell within the range of acceptable silvicultural stocking rates. Analysis of cohorts of seedlings over their first summer showed mortality was highest in the 2-3. months following emergence, especially during hot dry periods, but there was no difference in mortality rates between artificially and naturally sown areas. While the aerial sowing intervention established a cohort of alpine ash seedlings, the challenge for land managers is to protect these seedlings from wildfires for the next two decades to avoid loss of these forests. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Davis N.E.,University of Melbourne | Forsyth D.M.,University of Melbourne | Forsyth D.M.,Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research | Triggs B.,Dead Finish | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Dingoes/wild dogs (Canis dingo/familiaris) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are widespread carnivores in southern Australia and are controlled to reduce predation on domestic livestock and native fauna. We used the occurrence of food items in 5875 dingo/wild dog scats and 11,569 fox scats to evaluate interspecific and geographic differences in the diets of these species within nine regions of Victoria, south-eastern Australia. The nine regions encompass a wide variety of ecosystems. Diet overlap between dingoes/wild dogs and foxes varied among regions, from low to near complete overlap. The diet of foxes was broader than dingoes/wild dogs in all but three regions, with the former usually containing more insects, reptiles and plant material. By contrast, dingoes/wild dogs more regularly consumed larger mammals, supporting the hypothesis that niche partitioning occurs on the basis of mammalian prey size. The key mammalian food items for dingoes/wild dogs across all regions were black wallaby (Wallabia bicolor), brushtail possum species (Trichosurus spp.), common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), sambar deer (Rusa unicolor), cattle (Bos taurus) and European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). The key mammalian food items for foxes across all regions were European rabbit, sheep (Ovis aries) and house mouse (Mus musculus). Foxes consumed 6.1 times the number of individuals of threatened Critical Weight Range native mammal species than did dingoes/wild dogs. The occurrence of intraguild predation was asymmetrical; dingoes/wild dogs consumed greater biomass of the smaller fox. The substantial geographic variation in diet indicates that dingoes/wild dogs and foxes alter their diet in accordance with changing food availability. We provide checklists of taxa recorded in the diets of dingoes/wild dogs and foxes as a resource for managers and researchers wishing to understand the potential impacts of policy and management decisions on dingoes/wild dogs, foxes and the food resources they interact with. © 2015 Davis et al.


Forsyth D.M.,Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research | Gormley A.M.,Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research | Gormley A.M.,Landcare Research | Woodford L.,Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research | Fitzgerald T.,Parks Victoria
Wildlife Research | Year: 2012

Context Despite large mammals being an important component of many ecosystems, there is little information on the impacts of fire on large mammal populations. Aims We evaluated the effects of the large-scale high-severity 'Black Saturday' fires of 7 February 2009 on occupancy and abundances of an invasive large mammal, the sambar deer (Cervus unicolor), in south-eastern Australia. Methods The effects of the Black Saturday fires on the abundance of sambar deer were assessed using repeated annual counts of faecal pellets during 200711 in Kinglake National Park, which was burnt, and in Mount Buffalo National Park, which was not burnt. Pre-fire occupancy was modelled from data collected at 80 4-km2 cells using three survey methods. The same survey methods were used at 15 burnt (n≤9 sampled pre-fire) and 15 unburnt (n≤5 sampled pre-fire) cells 1624 months after Black Saturday. Because multiple surveys were performed in each cell, we used a Bayesian statespace site-occupancy model to partition changes in the probability of occupancy from changes in the probability of detection. Key results Counts of sambar deer pellets increased linearly during 200711 in the unburnt Mount Buffalo National Park. Pellet counts also increased linearly in Kinglake National Park from 2007 to 2008, and then decreased (to zero) following Black Saturday; pellet counts increased again in 2010 and 2011. Sambar deer occupancy was weakly reduced (from 0.99 to 0.88) in burnt cells 1624 months after Black Saturday, but was little changed in unburnt cells (from 0.99 to 0.98). Conclusions We conclude that the abundance of sambar deer was substantially reduced by the large-scale high-severity Black Saturday fires, but that most burnt habitat was reoccupied 1624 months later. Implications There is concern about the negative impacts of invasive sambar deer on native biodiversity, particularly immediately post-fire. Our study suggests that it takes at least 8 months before sambar deer recolonise areas burnt by a large-scale high-severity fire; however, a risk-averse approach would be to act (e.g. by erecting fences or culling) sooner than that. © 2012 CSIRO.


PubMed | Parks Victoria, La Trobe University, Deakin University, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research and 2 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

Dingoes/wild dogs (Canis dingo/familiaris) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are widespread carnivores in southern Australia and are controlled to reduce predation on domestic livestock and native fauna. We used the occurrence of food items in 5875 dingo/wild dog scats and 11,569 fox scats to evaluate interspecific and geographic differences in the diets of these species within nine regions of Victoria, south-eastern Australia. The nine regions encompass a wide variety of ecosystems. Diet overlap between dingoes/wild dogs and foxes varied among regions, from low to near complete overlap. The diet of foxes was broader than dingoes/wild dogs in all but three regions, with the former usually containing more insects, reptiles and plant material. By contrast, dingoes/wild dogs more regularly consumed larger mammals, supporting the hypothesis that niche partitioning occurs on the basis of mammalian prey size. The key mammalian food items for dingoes/wild dogs across all regions were black wallaby (Wallabia bicolor), brushtail possum species (Trichosurus spp.), common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), sambar deer (Rusa unicolor), cattle (Bos taurus) and European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). The key mammalian food items for foxes across all regions were European rabbit, sheep (Ovis aries) and house mouse (Mus musculus). Foxes consumed 6.1 times the number of individuals of threatened Critical Weight Range native mammal species than did dingoes/wild dogs. The occurrence of intraguild predation was asymmetrical; dingoes/wild dogs consumed greater biomass of the smaller fox. The substantial geographic variation in diet indicates that dingoes/wild dogs and foxes alter their diet in accordance with changing food availability. We provide checklists of taxa recorded in the diets of dingoes/wild dogs and foxes as a resource for managers and researchers wishing to understand the potential impacts of policy and management decisions on dingoes/wild dogs, foxes and the food resources they interact with.


Davis N.E.,University of Melbourne | Di Stefano J.,University of Melbourne | Coulson G.,University of Melbourne | Whelan J.,Parks Victoria | Wright J.,Level 10 Capital
Wildlife Research | Year: 2016

Context. Restoration of disturbed vegetation communities commonly involves altering vegetation composition and structure, attributes that can influence the suitability of habitat for fauna. Feedbacks may occur whereby changes to the vegetation affect mammalian herbivores, and unintended changes may prevent managers from achieving conservation goals. Aims. To understand how vegetation management affects habitat use by five mammalian herbivores, namely eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), swampwallaby (Wallabia bicolor), common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and hog deer (Axis porcinus). Methods. A management experiment (mechanical slashing of the encroaching shrub Leptospermum laevigatum) at Wilsons Promontory National Park, Australia, created slashed swales in addition to untreated dune and scrub woodland. In each vegetation stratum, we estimated the cover of L. laevigatum and quantified herbivore abundance by counting the standing crop of faecal pellets. Key results. Relative to untreated vegetation, mechanical slashing of L. laevigatum substantially reduced cover of this species above 200 cm, but increased its cover below 30 cm. On the basis of faecal-pellet counts, multispecies use of managed and unmanaged parts of the landscape differed substantially, with the differences principally driven by higher abundance of European rabbits and eastern grey kangaroos at slashed sites. Conclusions. The responses of three grazing species (kangaroo, rabbits and wombats) to vegetation management were predicted well by prior knowledge of diet and habitat preferences. This was not the case for the browser (swamp wallaby), nor for the grazer that consumes substantial amounts of browse in the study area (hog deer), and additional knowledge of the processes underlying their responses to vegetation change is required. Implications. Our findings highlighted that vegetation management can influence herbivore abundances in the managed system. An improved understanding of these associations will allow vegetation management plans to incorporate herbivore responses. © The authors 2016.


Antos M.J.,Parks Victoria | Dann P.,Phillip Island Nature Parks
Australian Field Ornithology | Year: 2014

This note reports an incidental observation of an Eastern Grass Owl Tyto longimembris which was disturbed from its roosting site in wetland vegetation associated with a natural mound spring in south-western Queensland. There are only two published records of the Grass Owl using this rare habitat type, although there are records from similar habitats associated with artificial bore drains. The potential importance of mound-spring habitats for Grass Owls is explored, and some of the threats facing these sites are described.


Aussavy M.,National Veterinary School of Toulouse | Bernardin E.,National Veterinary School of Toulouse | Corrigan A.,Parks Victoria | Hufschmid J.,University of Melbourne | Beveridge I.,University of Melbourne
Australian Mammalogy | Year: 2011

Helminth parasites of Macropus fuliginosus, M. giganteus, M. rufogriseus and Wallabia bicolor were examined in a region of western Victoria, Australia, where all four species of hosts are sympatric. M. fuliginosus and M. giganteus shared most of their parasites while the helminth communities of M. rufogriseus and W. bicolor were distinctive. The sympatric distribution of the host species studied provides evidence in support of the hypothesis that the differences between the parasite communities of M. fuliginosusM. giganteus compared with those of M. rufogriseus and W. bicolor are due to parasite specificity rather than to host ecological differences. However, lack of detailed data on the ecological differences of these hosts in areas of sympatry prevents more precise conclusions being drawn on the reasons for the distinctiveness of the parasite communities. © 2011 Australian Mammal Society.


Johnstone K.,University of Sydney | Miller K.,Deakin University | Antos M.,Parks Victoria
Conservation and Society | Year: 2015

This study explored whether the plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus), a species lacking the criteria outlined in the traditional flagship model, is a suitable local flagship for the Northern Plains Grasslands of Victoria in Australia. Questionnaires and telephone interviews were used to survey residents and natural resource management professionals and volunteers ('NRM participants') in communities living close to the Northern Plains Grasslands. Questionnaires were completed by 146 residents and 69 NRM participants, and 15 interviews were conducted. Results suggest that a significant proportion of the local community was aware of, and valued, the plains-wanderer, and that the species is currently functioning as an effective flagship for the region. Recommendations are provided for the future selection of flagship species in ecosystems where traditional flagships are not present. © 2015 Johnstone et al.


Cook C.N.,University of Queensland | Wardell-Johnson G.,Curtin University Australia | Keatley M.,Parks Victoria | Gowans S.A.,University of Ballarat | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2010

An important step in the conservation of biodiversity is to identify what exists, its quantity and its quality (i.e. condition). This can be a daunting task at the landscape-scale, so vegetation communities are often used as surrogates for biodiversity. Satellite imagery has improved our ability to rapidly measure vegetation parameters but the need for calibration still requires rapid and cost-effective on-ground condition assessment. Some management agencies address this need by using visual condition assessments, with unknown consequences for the different purposes of condition data. It is therefore vital to examine the comparability of visual and systematic condition assessment methods to guide their use in conservation decision making. We compared visual assessments of vegetation condition with more systematic and higher resolution on-ground assessments, using a method where both assessments were made for the same quadrats. We determined both the condition parameters observers respond to when making visual assessments of condition, and the consequences of any differences for the application of these data. We found that visual assessment of vegetation condition broadly represented measured assessments of the same vegetation, but that observers simplify their assessments by responding to only some of the measured condition parameters. No consistent trends were found in the parameters observers responded to across the different vegetation types sampled.. Synthesis and applications. We conclude that visual estimates of vegetation condition are only of sufficient resolution to replace more expensive, high-resolution assessments at a landscape-scale, when condition results are combined over multiple areas and vegetation types. Visual assessment methods potentially can provide an efficient measure of overall condition for conservation management agencies where practitioners can make assessments of condition in the course of their daily management activities - an important step forward. At smaller scales, idiosyncratic effects render visual estimates highly variable when compared with systematic condition assessments. This variability, especially among vegetation types, suggests that more systematic assessments are necessary when management decisions require higher-resolution estimates of changes in individual condition parameters, such as when measuring the success of individual management actions. These findings provide a valuable guide for selecting the most appropriate approach for the different objectives of condition assessments for biodiversity conservation. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 British Ecological Society.

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