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Goldingay R.L.,Southern Cross University of Australia | Taylor B.D.,Southern Cross University of Australia | Ball T.,Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
Australian Mammalogy | Year: 2011

Gliding mammals may be susceptible to habitat fragmentation due to increased vulnerability to predators and road mortality if forced to cross roads and other canopy gaps on the ground. We document three trials where 6-12-m-high wooden poles, also known as glide poles, were installed to provide a link for gliding mammals across 50-75-m-wide canopy gaps, over open pasture or over roads. We used hair-traps over periods of 10-42 months to determine whether squirrel gliders (Petaurus norfolcensis) used the poles. Squirrel glider hair was detected on at least one pole during 69-100% of sampling sessions. At two road locations where poles were installed on wildlife land-bridges, hair was detected on poles in the middle of the bridge in 7-18 sessions, suggesting that complete crossings may have occurred. At one road location a camera-trap recorded a squirrel glider ascending a middle pole on five of 20 nights. Repeated use of the wooden poles by squirrel gliders at three locations suggests that tall wooden poles can restore habitat connectivity for a gliding mammal. We recommend further trials to extend our knowledge of the usefulness of this management tool for a range of gliding mammal species. © 2011 Australian Mammal Society. Source

D'Souza J.B.,University of Queensland | Whittington A.,Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service | Dickman C.R.,University of Sydney | Leung L.K.-P.,University of Queensland
Austral Ecology | Year: 2013

Extreme climatic events are expected to increase in frequency and magnitude in future and to have powerful effects on the organisms and ecological communities that experience them. In arid Australia flooding rains trigger flushes in primary productivity that allow ephemeral irruptions of consumer organisms, but they also provide conditions for 'perfect storms': wildfires that are carried by flood-stimulated increases in fuel load. Here we describe demographic responses of the long-haired rat Rattus villosissimus to flood rains and prescribed burns in the Mitchell grass downs of central Queensland, Australia, during a broad-scale irruption of this species in 2011. Populations were sampled on three trapping grids on two occasions before and two occasions after control burns in April 2011, and compared with populations sampled at the same times on three further grids that remained unburnt. Rat populations declined temporarily just after the fires, but survival, sex ratio, body condition, reproduction and other demographic parameters remained unaffected by the burn treatment. The temporary declines in rat numbers on the burnt grids were probably caused by resource shortages, but subsequent increases in rat numbers suggest that these impacts were not severe. If small-scale prescribed burns reduce the chance of landscape-wide wildfires taking hold, we suggest that they should effectively allow long-haired rats to weather perfect storms in future. © 2013 The Authors. © 2013 Ecological Society of Australia. Source

Baker A.M.,Queensland University of Technology | Mutton T.Y.,Queensland University of Technology | Hines H.B.,Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service | Van Dyck S.,Queensland Museum
Zootaxa | Year: 2014

We describe a new species of dasyurid marsupial within the genus Antechinus that was previously known as a northern outlier of Dusky Antechinus (A. swainsonii). The Black-tailed Antechinus, Antechinus arktos sp. nov., is known only from areas of high altitude and high rainfall on the Tweed Volcano caldera of far south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales, Australia. Antechinus arktos formerly sheltered under the taxonomic umbrella of A. swainsonii mimetes, the widespread mainland form of Dusky Antechinus. With the benefit of genetic hindsight, some striking morphological dif-ferences are herein resolved: A. s. mimetes is more uniformly deep brown-black to grizzled grey-brown from head to rump, with brownish (clove brown-raw umber) hair on the upper surface of the hindfoot and tail, whereas A. arktos is more vibrantly coloured, with a marked change from greyish-brown head to orange-brown rump, fuscous black on the upper surface of the hindfoot and dense, short fur on the evenly black tail. Further, A. arktos has marked orange-brown fur on the upper and lower eyelid, cheek and in front of the ear and very long guard hairs all over the body; these characters are more subtle in A. s. mimetes. There are striking genetic differences between the two species: at mtDNA, A. s. mimetes from north-east New South Wales is 10% divergent to A. arktos from its type locality at Springbrook NP, Queensland. In con-trast, the Ebor A. s. mimetes clades closely with conspecifics from ACT and Victoria. A. arktos skulls are strikingly dif-ferent to all subspecies of A. swainsonii. A. arktos are markedly larger than A. s. mimetes and A. s. swainsonii (Tasmania) for a range of craniodental measures. Antechinus arktos were historically found at a few proximate mountainous sites in south-east Queensland, and have only recently been recorded from or near the type locality. Even there, the species is like-ly in low abundance. The Black-tailed Antechinus has plausibly been detrimentally affected by climate change in recent decades, and will be at further risk with increasing warming trends. © 2014 Magnolia Press. Source

Gillespie G.R.,University of Melbourne | Scroggie M.P.,Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research | Roberts J.D.,University of Western Australia | Cogger H.G.,College Street Sydney | And 2 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2011

We evaluated the influence of uncertainty, based on variation in expert opinion, on assessment of conservation status of Australian amphibians. We examined relationships between different biological variables and inferred relative extinction risk, the influence of uncertainty on resulting ranks, and regional patterns of extinction risk and uncertainty. Our results were in general agreement with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources but also reveal apparent high extinction risks among some taxa that the IUCN did not classify in any threatened category. These differences were exaggerated when the most conservative status assessments were taken from variation in expert opinion. Our assessments of relative extinction risk were strongly dependent on basic demographic variables, particularly population size, geographic distribution of populations and age at first reproduction. We identified regional hotspots of high relative extinction risk and poor knowledge of amphibians, leading to high uncertainty about the conservation status of species from those areas. Regional clustering of species with high relative extinction risk and high uncertainty may indicate higher levels of relative extinction risk than previously assessed. Our results highlight the influence of uncertainty on interpretation of conservation assessments of organism groups with large knowledge gaps. Uncertainty should be further incorporated into conservation planning as it not only highlights taxa with potentially underestimated extinction risk, but also facilitates identification of knowledge gaps informative of conservation status. Knowledge of regional patterns of extinction risk and uncertainty assists conservation planning through identification of regions of high extinction risk and/or large knowledge gaps. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Baker A.M.,Queensland University of Technology | Mutton T.Y.,Queensland University of Technology | Hines H.B.,Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
Zootaxa | Year: 2013

Antechinus argentus sp. nov. is currently only known from the plateau at the eastern escarpment of Kroombit Tops Na-tional Park, about 400km NNW of Brisbane and 60km SSW of Gladstone, south-east Queensland, Australia. Antechinus flavipes (Waterhouse) is also known from Kroombit Tops NP, 4.5km W of the nearest known population of A. argentus; A. mysticus Baker, Mutton and Van Dyck has yet to be found within Kroombit Tops, but is known from museum specimens taken at Bulburin NP, just 40km ESE, as well as extant populations about 400km to both the south-east and north-west of Kroombit NP. A. argentus can be easily distinguished in the field, having an overall silvery/grey appearance with much paler silver feet and drabber deep greyish-olive rump than A. flavipes, which has distinctive yellow-orange toned feet, rump and tail-base; A. argentus fur is also less coarse than that of A. flavipes. A. argentus has a striking silver-grey head, neck and shoulders, with pale, slightly broken eye-rings, which distinguish it from A. mysticus which has a more subtle greyish-brown head, pale buff dabs of eyeliner and more colourful brownish-yellow rump. Features of the dentary can also be used for identification: A. argentus differs from A. flavipes in having smaller molar teeth, as well as a narrower and smaller skull and from A. mysticus in having on average a narrower snout, smaller skull and dentary lengths and small-er posterior palatal vacuities in the skull. A. argentus is strongly divergent genetically (at mtDNA) from both A. flavipes (9.0-11.2%) and A. mysticus (7.2-7.5%), and forms a very strongly supported clade to the exclusion of all other antechinus species, in both mtDNA and combined (mtDNA and nDNA) phylogenies inferred here. We are yet to make detailed sur-veys in search of A. argentus from forested areas to the immediate east and north of Kroombit Tops. However, A. mysticus has only been found at these sites in low densities in decades past and not at all in several recent trapping expeditions conducted by the authors. With similar habitat types in close geographic proximity, it is plausible that A. argentus may be found outside Kroombit. Nevertheless, it is striking that from a range of surveys conducted at Kroombit Tops in the last 15 years and intensive surveys by the authors in the last 3 years, totalling more than 5 080 trap nights, just 13 A. argentus have been captured from two sites less than 6 km apart. If this is even close to the true geographic extent of the species, it would possess one of the smallest distributions of an Australian mammal species. With several threats identified, we ten-tatively recommend that A. argentus be listed as Endangered, pending an exhaustive trapping survey of Kroombit and sur-rounds Copyright © 2013 Magnolia Press. Source

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