Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Declines in the mammal assemblage of a rugged sandstone environment in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

M. Ibbett A B C , J. C. Z. Woinarski A D G and M. Oakwood E F
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Natural Resources Environment and the Arts, PO Box 496, Palmerston, NT 0831, Australia.

B Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

C Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 2066, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia.

D Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the National Environment Science Program, Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0909, Australia.

E Evolutionary Ecology Group, Division of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

F Envirotek Ecological Services, PO Box 4022, Coffs Harbour Jetty, NSW 2450, Australia.

G Corresponding author. Email: john.woinarski@cdu.edu.au

Australian Mammalogy - https://doi.org/10.1071/AM17011
Submitted: 5 March 2017  Accepted: 20 July 2017   Published online: 8 August 2017

Abstract

There has been marked recent decline in the terrestrial mammal fauna across much of northern Australia, with most documentation of such decline for lowland areas. Here we report changes in the assemblage of small mammals in a rugged sandstone environment (Nawurlandja, in Kakadu National Park) over intermittent sampling between 1977 and 2002. Four native mammal species were commonly recorded in the original sampling: sandstone antechinus (Pseudantechinus bilarni), northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus), Arnhem rock-rat (Zyzomys maini) and common rock-rat (Z. argurus). Trap success rates declined significantly for the northern quoll, Arnhem rock-rat and all species combined, but increased for the common rock-rat. Despite being recorded commonly in the initial (1977–79) study, no Arnhem rock-rats were recorded in the most recent (2002) sampling. Trap success rates for northern quoll declined by ~90% from 1977–79 to 2002. The reasons for change are not clear-cut. Notably, all sampling occurred before the arrival of cane toads (Rhinella marina), a factor that has caused severe decline in northern quoll numbers elsewhere. Fire was more frequent in the sampling area in the period preceding the 2002 sampling than it was in the period preceding the initial (1977–79) sampling, and this may have contributed to change in mammal abundance.

Additional keywords: monitoring, rock-rat, northern quoll, sandstone antechinus, fire.


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