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

Use of urban bushland remnants by the western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis): short-term home-range size and habitat use in Albany, Western Australia

Bronte E. Van Helden A C , Peter C. Speldewinde A , Paul G. Close A and Sarah J. Comer A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia, PO Box 5771, Albany, WA 6332, Australia.

B Department of Parks and Wildlife, Albany District, 120 Albany Highway, Albany, WA 6330, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: bronte.vanhelden@research.uwa.edu.au

Australian Mammalogy - https://doi.org/10.1071/AM17026
Submitted: 13 April 2017  Accepted: 24 June 2017   Published online: 3 August 2017

Abstract

Management of wildlife in habitats fragmented by urbanisation requires an understanding of a species’ habitat use. Known populations of the critically endangered western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) are largely restricted to bushland remnants in rapidly urbanising areas of south-western Australia. Habitat use is thought to be driven by nutritional content, structure and connectivity of canopy vegetation. At the southernmost extent of the species’ range, habitat use is largely unknown, although it is expected to be different from previous descriptions due to differences in vegetation characteristics. We used VHF and global positioning system tracking collars to determine short-term home-range size, diurnal refuge use and night-time tree use of western ringtail possums in bushland remnants within Albany City. Possums had small home ranges (0.88 ha) that were negatively correlated with percentage canopy cover; used a variety of daytime refuges (predominantly dreys); and preferentially utilised marri (Corymbia calophylla) and jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) at night. These results confirm that differences in habitat use among populations exist and suggests that the species is reasonably flexible in its use of habitat. Management of western ringtail possums needs to be population specific and will benefit from further examination of habitat use in the variety of occupied habitats.

Additional keywords: behaviour, conservation, Pseudocheiridae, radio telemetry, threatened species, wildlife management.


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