Across its native range in Australia and its introduced range in New Zealand breeding of the common brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula, varies significantly. Photoperiod and food quantity/quality appear to influence the variation in breeding seasonality, but density, body weight/condition and, possibly, genetics also have effects. Understanding variation in the seasonality of breeding and its causes will help management of possum populations as pests and for their conservation.
Marsupials are an old mammalian lineage and the state of their immune competence has been debated for some time. TCRζ and ZAP-70 are important immune molecules and the significant sequence differences found in the tammar wallaby TCRζ gene when compared with the human counterpart provided an insight into the development and proficiency of the marsupial immune system.
G. E. St J.
Soil is disturbed by terrestrial vertebrates when searching for food. Changes in soil disturbance can influence ecosystem processes such as soil turnover, potentially altering habitat quality and tree condition. Forest and woodland declines in condition are occurring worldwide. This study linked Eucalyptus wandoo decline in the south-west of Western Australia to changes in soil disturbance.
Subantarctic fur seals are vagrants to South Australia and occur regularly in winter and spring when they attract attention because of their handsome appearance. We document 86 records between 1982 and 2012, at approximately three per year. Most are likely to be from Amsterdam Island in the South Indian Ocean, 5200 km west of South Australia, where the species is abundant.
Mark D. B.
The eastern quoll is extinct on the Australian mainland and is now declining in Tasmania. This study assessed the distribution of genetic diversity within Tasmanian eastern quolls, finding significant regional differentiation and that populations in central Tasmania were the most diverse. The central Tasmanian populations are therefore a high priority for management and an ideal source of animals for conservation initiatives.
Understanding how species respond to road expansion is crucial to guiding efforts to reduce barrier effects. We investigated use of underpasses by bandicoots along a section of the Pacific Highway in northern New South Wales before, during and after road expansion (i.e. from two to four lanes). Frequency of use was similar just prior to and during expansion but declined after expansion, perhaps reflecting a shift from regular foraging to infrequent dispersal movements through the underpasses.
The rare marsupial mole is one of Australia’s most elusive mammals. The team at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park used Indigenous traditional skills to monitor the species in different sites. As a result we now understand more about the species’ response to fire and rainfall, as well as its distribution and abundance across the park. This information will help to manage and conserve the species in the future.
The paper presents the most comprehensive assessment of koala diet undertaken across Queensland. A diverse diet is revealed, incorporating soil, buds, bark and foliage from 34 tree species across 49 regional ecosystems. The importance of stream-fringing communities in central Queensland is evident. This paper raises questions about some habitat viability and highlights gaps in knowledge of koala feeding ecology.
The knowledge of selective feeding habits of large folivores can assist in the prediction of their movements in fragmented landscapes and therefore in conservation planning. By monitoring the consumption of browse species provided to captive Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos it was found that this species shows general preferences for some browse species and seasonal preferences for others. These findings are important when planning habitat enlargement and connectivity projects for Lumholtz tree-kangaroo conservation.
The population ecology of the eastern pygmy-possum Cercartetus nanus, which is a vulnerable species in New South Wales, was studied at Barren Grounds Nature Reserve. The local population was estimated to be up to 25 individuals, although there was a regular seasonal variation in abundance with a spring decline coinciding with the cessation of Banksia flowering. Long-term persistence of this species will depend on protecting areas where favoured plants are abundant as well as maintaining habitat connectivity.
Continuing declines in snow will open the mainland alpine zone, previously free from marsupial grazing, to wallabies that are already extending their elevational distribution. At high elevations, swamp wallabies consume their typical food but red-necked wallabies expand their diet to include a high intake of shrubs. Mainland alpine grazing impacts could mirror herbfield suppression as occurs in Tasmanian marsupial lawn.
Brushtail possums were reintroduced to Wadderin Sanctuary in the eastern wheatbelt of Western Australian in mid-2008. This was the first of eight species reintroduced to reconstruct the former fauna of this region. The possum population has persisted for >5 years, due largely to the absence of foxes and the ready availability of hollows and/or shelter sites in woodland and rock habitats.
Studying threatened wildlife can be challenging when a species is rare, cryptic or difficult to catch, but sound knowledge of such species can be critical to their conservation. With the aid of camera traps, we recorded the burrowing behaviour of the elusive northern hopping-mouse on Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory. The results will improve detection methods for this species with ultimate benefits for conservation.
This note reports an incidental observation of abrupt changes in the number of Tasmanian bettongs detected following the first appearance of feral cats at an eastern quoll monitoring site. Within four months of cats appearing, bettong detections had fallen by 58% and by 100% within six months. This observation suggests that feral cats should be considered a potential threat in the future management and conservation of the species.
Knowledge of the gliding performance of gliding mammals is fundamental to understanding how they have adapted to their environment and is of increasing relevance to their conservation. In low-canopy forest the horizontal gliding distance of yellow-bellied gliders averaged 25 m, equating to 2 m distance for every 1 m dropped in height. This performance is similar to that of other gliding petaurids in low-canopy forest.
A significant population of the endangered northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) was recorded from desert refugia in the Little Sandy Desert Bioregion of Western Australia. The northern quoll was photographed by a motion-sensitive camera and mitochondrial DNA analysis of scats collected confirmed the identification. The records represent a significant range extension (~200 km) and due to habitat restrictions are likely to represent the eastern extreme of the species’ range.