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Nightcliff, Australia

Stokeld D.,Flora and Fauna Division | Stokeld D.,Charles Darwin University | Frank A.S.K.,University of Tasmania | Hill B.,Flora and Fauna Division | And 10 more authors.
Wildlife Research | Year: 2015

Context Feral cats are a major cause of mammal declines and extinctions in Australia. However, cats are elusive and obtaining reliable ecological data is challenging. Although camera traps are increasingly being used to study feral cats, their successful use in northern Australia has been limited. Aims We evaluated the efficacy of camera-trap sampling designs for detecting cats in the tropical savanna of northern Australia. We aimed to develop a camera-trapping method that would yield detection probabilities adequate for precise occupancy estimates. Methods First, we assessed the influence of two micro-habitat placements and three lure types on camera-trap detection rates of feral cats. Second, using multiple camera traps at each site, we examined the relationship between sampling effort and detection probability by using a multi-method occupancy model. Key results We found no significant difference in detection rates of feral cats using a variety of lures and micro-habitat placement. The mean probability of detecting a cat on one camera during one week of sampling was very low (p≤0.15) and had high uncertainty. However, the probability of detecting a cat on at least one of five cameras deployed concurrently on a site was 48% higher (p≤0.22) and had a greater precision. Conclusions The sampling effort required to achieve detection rates adequate to infer occupancy of feral cats by camera trap is considerably higher in northern Australia than has been observed elsewhere in Australia. Adequate detection of feral cats in the tropical savanna of northern Australia will necessitate inclusion of more camera traps and a longer survey duration. Implications Sampling designs using camera traps need to be rigorously trialled and assessed to optimise detection of the target species for different Australian biomes. A standard approach is suggested for detecting feral cats in northern Australian savannas. Source

Ens E.-J.,Australian National University | Cooke P.,Warddeken Land Management Ltd | Nadjamerrek R.,Warddeken Land Management Ltd | Namundja S.,Warddeken Land Management Ltd | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2010

Aboriginal land managers have observed that feral Asian water buffalo (Bubalis bubalis Lydekker) are threatening the ecological and cultural integrity of perennial freshwater sources in Arnhem Land, Australia. Here we present collaborative research between the Aboriginal Rangers from Warddeken Land Management Limited and Western scientists which quantified the ground-level impacts of buffalo on seven perennial freshwater springs of the Arnhem Plateau. A secondary aim was to build the capacity of Aboriginal Rangers to self-monitor and evaluate the ecological outcomes of their land management activities. Sites with high buffalo abundance had significantly different ground, ground cover, and water quality attributes compared to sites with low buffalo abundance. The low buffalo abundance sites were characterized by tall herbaceous vegetation and flat ground, whereas wallows, bare ground, and short ungrazed grasses were indicators of sites with high buffalo abundance. Water turbidity was greater when buffalo abundance was high. The newly acquired monitoring skills and derived indicators of buffalo damage will be used by Aboriginal Rangers to assess the ecological outcomes of their future buffalo control efforts on the Arnhem Plateau. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Source

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