Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The value of nest boxes in the research and management of Australian hollow-using arboreal marsupials

Georgia L. Beyer A and Ross L. Goldingay A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Environmental Science and Management, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: ross.goldingay@scu.edu.au

Wildlife Research 33(3) 161-174 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR04109
Submitted: 29 October 2004  Accepted: 29 March 2006   Published: 31 May 2006

Abstract

Nest boxes have been recognised as research and management tools for arboreal marsupials in Australia for over 20 years. We review the published literature with the aim of describing the scope of studies conducted in Australia thus far and providing guidance to future research. We recognise three types of application in research: (1) detection of species, (2) study of a species’ ecology, and (3) investigation of box designs preferred by different species. Several species of arboreal marsupial may be detected more readily in nest boxes than by conventional survey techniques, allowing description of key aspects of their ecology; e.g. feathertail glider (Acrobates pygmaeus), eastern pygmy possum (Cercartetus nanus) and brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa). Identifying the most favoured nest-box design for any species has implications for detection and management uses of nest boxes. More research is needed but preliminary findings suggest that species prefer narrow entrance holes, while height of the nest box above 3 m may be inconsequential. We recognise three types of management application: (1) species introduction, (2) support of populations of endangered species, and (3) strategic placement such as to enhance habitat connectivity. Currently there have been few attempts to use nest boxes to manage arboreal marsupials but further research is needed to realise their potential as a management tool.


Acknowledgments

We thank Sue Carthew, Geoff Smith, David Lindenmayer, Camilla Myers and an anonymous referee for comments on an earlier draft of this paper. We thank Alan Franks (Hollow Log Homes) for sharing his nest-box designs with us. Brisbane City Council is thanked for the support of our research in Brisbane from which many of the ideas expressed in this paper were developed.


References

Ambrose G. J. (1982). An ecological and behavioural study of vertebrates using hollows in eucalypt branches. Ph.D. Thesis, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Ballardie, R. T. , and Whelan, R. J. (1986). Masting, seed dispersal and seed predation in the cycad, Macrozamia communis. Oecologia 70, 100–105.
CrossRef |

Beyer G. (2003). The value of nest boxes in managing hollow-using arboreal marsupials. B.Sc.(Honours) Thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore.

Bladon, R. V. , Dickman, C. R. , and Hume, I. D. (2002). Effects of habitat fragmentation on the demography, movements and social organisation of the eastern pygmy-possum (Cercartetus nanus) in northern New South Wales. Wildlife Research 29, 105–116.
CrossRef |

Bowen, M. , and Goldingay, R. (2000). Distribution and status of the eastern pygmy-possum (Cercartetus nanus) in New South Wales. Australian Mammalogy 21, 153–164.


Bull E. L., Parks C. G., and Torgerson T. R. (1997). Trees and logs important to wildlife in the interior Columbia River Basin. General Technical Report. PNW-GTR-391. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

Calder T. G., Golding B. G., and Manderson A. D. (1983). Management for arboreal species in the Wombat State Forest. Environment Report No. 16. Graduate School of Environmental Science, Monash University.

Cameron, M. (2006). Nesting habitat of the glossy black-cockatoo in central New South Wales. Biological Conservation 127, 402–410.
CrossRef |

Carthew, S. M. , and Goldingay, R. L. (1997). Pollination by non-flying mammals. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 12, 104–108.
CrossRef |

Davey S. M., and Norton T. W. (1990). State forests in Australia and their role in wildlife conservation. In ‘Australian Ecosystems: 200 Years of Utilization, Degradation and Reconstruction’. (Eds D. A. Saunders, A. J. M. Hopkins and R. A. How.) pp. 323–345. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Dobson M. (2002). The ecology of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) in the urban Brisbane landscape. B.Sc.(Honours) Thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore.

Fanning, F. D. (1980). Nests of the feathertail glider, Acrobates pygmaeus (Burramyidae: Marsupialia), from Sydney, New South Wales. Australian Mammalogy 3, 55–56.


Fleming M. R., and Frey H. (1984). Aspects of the natural history of feathertail gliders (Acrobates pygmaeus) in Victoria. In ‘Possums and Gliders’. (Eds A. P. Smith and I. D. Hume.) pp. 403–408. (Australian Mammal Society: Sydney.)

Franks A., and Franks S. (2003). ‘Nest Boxes for Wildlife: a Practical Guide.’ (Bloomings Books: Melbourne.)

Frey H., and Fleming M. R. (1984). Torpor and thermoregulatory behaviour in free-ranging feathertail gliders (Acrobates pygmaeus) (Marsupialia, Burramyidae) in Victoria. In ‘Possums and Gliders’. (Eds A. P. Smith and I. D. Hume) pp. 393–401. (Australian Mammal Society: Sydney.)

Gibbons P., and Lindenmayer D. (2002). ‘Tree Hollows and Wildlife Conservation in Australia.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Gibbons, P. , Lindenmayer, D. B. , Barry, S. C. , and Tanton, M. T. (2000). Hollow formation in eucalypts from temperate forests in southeastern Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology 6, 218–228.


Golding B. G. (1979). Use of artificial hollows by mammals and birds in the Wombat Forest, Daylesford, Victoria. M.Sc. Thesis, Monash University, Melbourne.

Goldingay, R. L. (1990). The foraging behaviour of a nectar feeding marsupial, Petaurus australis. Oecologia 85, 191–199.
CrossRef |

Goldingay R. L. (2000). Gliding mammals of the world: diversity and ecological requirements. In ‘Biology of Gliding Mammals’. (Eds R. L. Goldingay and J. S. Scheibe.) pp. 9–44. (Filander Verlay: Furth, Germany.)

Goldingay, R. L. , and Kavanagh, R. P. (1993). Home-range estimates and habitat of the yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis) at Waratah Creek, New South Wales. Wildlife Research 20, 387–404.
CrossRef |

Goldingay R. L., and Quin D. G. (2004). Components of the habitat of the yellow-bellied glider in north Queensland. In ‘The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders’. (Eds R. L. Goldingay and S. M. Jackson.) pp. 369–375. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Goldingay R. L., and Sharpe D. J. (2004). Spotlights versus nestboxes for detecting feathertail gliders in north-east New South Wales. In ‘The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders’. (Eds R. L. Goldingay and S. M. Jackson) pp. 298–305. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Goldingay, R. L. , Carthew, S. M. , and Whelan, R. J. (1991). The importance of pollination by non-flying mammals. Oikos 61, 79–87.


Goldingay, R. L. , Quin, D. , and Churchill, S. (2001). Spatial variability in the social organisation of the yellow-bellied glider near Ravenshoe, north Queensland. Australian Journal of Zoology 49, 397–409.
CrossRef |

Grant J. (1997). ‘The Nest Box Book.’ (Gould League: Victoria.)

Harley D. K. P. (2004). Patterns of nest box use by Leadbeater’s possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri): applications to research and conservation. In ‘The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders’. (Eds R. L. Goldingay and S. M. Jackson.) pp. 318–329. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Harley, D. K. P. , and Spring, D. A. (2003). Reply to the comment by Lindenmayer et al. on “Economics of a nest-box program for the conservation of an endangered species: a re-appraisal”. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 33, 752–753.
CrossRef |

Harper, M. J. , McCarthy, M. A. , and van der Ree, R. (2005). The use of nest boxes in urban natural vegetation remnants by vertebrate fauna. Wildlife Research 32, 509–516.
CrossRef |

Harris, J. M. , and Goldingay, R. L. (2005). Detection of the eastern pygmy-possum (Cercartetus nanus) (Marsupialia: Burramyidae) at Barren Grounds Nature Reserve, New South Wales. Australian Mammalogy 27, 85–88.


Homan, P. (2000). Excluding the common myna Acridotheres tristis from artificial nest boxes using a baffle. Victorian Naturalist 117, 75.


Huang, C. , Ward, S. , and Lee, A. K. (1987). Comparison of the diets of the feathertail glider, Acrobates pygmaeus, and the eastern pygmy possum, Cercartetus nanus (Marsupialia: Burramyidae) in sympatry. Australian Mammalogy 10, 47–50.


Irvine, R. , and Bender, R. (1997). Introduction of the sugar glider Petaurus breviceps into re-established forest of the Organ Pipes National Park, Victoria. Victorian Naturalist 114, 230–239.


Jones, C. G. , Heck, W. , Lewis, R. E. , Mungroo, Y. , Slade, G. , and Cade, T. (1994). The restoration of the Mauritius kestrel Falco punctatus population. Ibis 137, S173–S180.


Juzva, K. , and Peeters, P. J. (1992). A preliminary report on the status of sugar gliders Petaurus breviceps (Waterhouse) reintroduced into Blackburn Lake Sanctuary, Victoria. Victorian Naturalist 109, 168–172.


Kavanagh, R. P. (2000). Effects of variable-intensity logging and the influence of habitat variables on the distribution of the greater glider Petauroides volans in montane forest, southeastern New South Wales. Pacific Conservation Biology 6, 18–30.


Kirk, J. , Smith, G. C. , and Agnew, G. (2000). Trial radio-tracking of feathertail gliders Acrobates pygmaeus. Australian Mammalogy 22, 129–131.


Kubler, S. , Kupko, S. , and Zeller, U. (2005). The kestrel (Falco tinnunculus L.) in Berlin: investigation of breeding biology and feeding ecology. Journal für Ornithologie 146, 271–278.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B. (1994). Wildlife corridors and the mitigation of logging impacts on fauna in wood-production forests in south-eastern Australia: a review. Wildlife Research 21, 323–340.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B. , and Meggs, R. A. (1996). Use of den trees by Leadbeater’s possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri). Australian Journal of Zoology 44, 625–638.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B. , Cunningham, R. B. , Tanton, M. T. , and Smith, A. P. (1990). The conservation of arboreal marsupials in the montane ash forests of the central highlands of Victoria, south-east Australia. II. The loss of trees with hollows and its implications for the conservation of Leadbeater’s possum, Gymnobelideus leadbeateri McCoy (Marsupialia: Petauridae). Biological Conservation 54, 133–145.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B. , Tanton, M. T. , and Cunningham, R. B. (1991). A critique of the use of nest boxes for the conservation of Leadbeater’s possum, Gymnobelideus leadbeateri McCoy. Wildlife Research 18, 619–624.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B. , Cunningham, R. B. , and Donnelly, C. F. (1997). Decay and collapse of trees with hollows in eastern Australian forests – impacts on arboreal marsupials. Ecological Applications 7, 625–641.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B. , Cunningham, R. B. , Pope, M. L. , Gibbons, P. , and Donnelly, C. F. (2000). Cavity sizes and types in Australian eucalypts from wet and dry forest types – a simple rule of thumb for estimating size and number of cavities. Forest Ecology and Management 137, 139–150.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B. , MacGregor, C. , and Gibbons, P. (2002). Comment – Economics of a nest-box program for the conservation of an endangered species: a re-appraisal. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 32, 2244–2247.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B. , MacGregor, C. I. , Cunningham, R. B. , Incoll, R. D. , Crane, M. , Rawlins, D. , and Michael, D. R. (2003). The use of nest boxes by arboreal marsupials in the forests of the central highlands of Victoria. Wildlife Research 30, 259–264.
CrossRef |

Lunney, D. (1987). Effects of logging, fire and drought on possums and gliders in the coastal forests near Bega, N.S.W. Australian Wildlife Research 14, 263–274.
CrossRef |

Macfarlane, M. A. (1988). Mammal populations in mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forests of various ages in the central highlands of Victoria. Australian Forestry 51, 14–27.


Mackowski C. M. (1984). The ontogeny of hollows in blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) and its relevance to the management of forests for possums, gliders and timber. In ‘Possums and Gliders’. (Eds A. P. Smith and I. D. Hume) pp. 553–567. (Australian Mammal Society: Sydney.)

Mand, R. , Tilgar, V. , Lohmus, A. , and Leivits, A. (2005). Providing nest boxes for hole-nesting birds – does habitat matter? Biodiversity and Conservation 14, 1823–1840.
CrossRef |

Matthews A., Lunney D., Waples K., and Hardy J. (2004). Brushtail possums: “champions of the suburbs” or “our tormentors”? In ‘Urban Wildlife: More Than Meets the Eye’. (Eds D. Lunney and S. Burgin.) pp. 159–168. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Mosman.)

McComb, W. C. , and Noble, R. E. (1981). Microclimates of nest boxes and natural cavities in bottomland hardwoods. Journal of Wildlife Management 45, 284–289.


McKenny, D. , and Lindenmayer, D. B. (1994). An economic assessment of a nest-box strategy for the conservation of an endangered species. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 24, 2012–2019.


Menkhorst P. W. (1984a). The application of nest boxes in research and management of possums and gliders. In ‘Possums and Gliders’. (Eds A. P. Smith and I. D. Hume.) pp. 517–525. (Australian Mammal Society: Sydney.)

Menkhorst, P. W. (1984b). Use of nest boxes by forest vertebrates in Gippsland: acceptance, preference and demand. Australian Wildlife Research 11, 255–264.
CrossRef |

Mols, C. M. M. , and Visser, M. E. (2002). Great tits can reduce caterpillar damage in apple orchards. Journal of Applied Ecology 39, 888–899.
CrossRef |

Myers, S. D. , and Dashper, S. G. (1999). A survey of the vertebrate fauna of the Rushworth State Forest. Victorian Naturalist 116, 131–141.


Newton, I. (1994). The role of nest sites in limiting the numbers of hole-nesting birds: a review. Biological Conservation 70, 265–276.
CrossRef |

Pell, A. S. , and Tideman, C. R. (1997). The impact of two exotic hollow-nesting birds on two native parrots in savannah and woodland in eastern Australia. Biological Conservation 79, 145–153.
CrossRef |

Rhind, S. G. (2002). Reproductive demographics among brush-tailed phascogales (Phascogale tapoatafa) in south-western Australia. Wildlife Research 29, 247–257.
CrossRef |

Rhind, S. G. , and Bradley, J. S. (2002). The effect of drought on body size, growth and abundance of wild brush-tailed phascogales (Phascogale tapoatafa) in south-western Australia. Wildlife Research 29, 235–245.
CrossRef |

Richardson K., and Carthew S. M. (2004). Quest for the elusive feathertail glider (Acrobates pygmaeus) in South Australia. In ‘The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders’. (Eds R. L. Goldingay and S. M. Jackson) pp. 306–311. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Sadler, L. M. , and Ward, S. J. (1999). Coalitions in male sugar gliders: are they natural? Journal of Zoology 248, 91–96.
CrossRef |

Scarff, F. R. , Rhind, S. G. , and Bradley, J. S. (1998). Diet and foraging behaviour of brush-tailed phascogales (Phascogale tapoatafa) in the jarrah forest of south-western Australia. Wildlife Research 25, 511–526.
CrossRef |

Sharpe, D. J. , and Goldingay, R. L. (1998). Feeding behaviour of the squirrel glider at Bungawalbin Nature Reserve, north-eastern NSW. Wildlife Research 25, 243–254.
CrossRef |

Smales, I. J. (1994). The discovery of Leadbeater’s possum Gymnobelideus leadbeateri McCoy, resident in a lowland swamp woodland. Victorian Naturalist 111, 178–182.


Smith, A. P. (1982). Diet and feeding strategies of the marsupial sugar glider in temperate Australia. Journal of Animal Ecology 51, 149–166.


Smith, A. P. , and Lindenmayer, D. B. (1988). Tree hollow requirements of Leadbeater’s possum and other possums and gliders in timber production forests of the Victorian central highlands. Australian Wildlife Research 15, 347–362.
CrossRef |

Smith, A. P. , Nagy, K. A. , Fleming, M. R. , and Green, B. (1982). Energy requirements and water turnover in free-living Leadbeater’s possums, Gymnobelideus leadbeateri (Marsupialia: Petauridae). Australian Journal of Zoology 30, 737–749.
CrossRef |

Smith, G. C. , and Agnew, G. (2002). The value of ‘bat boxes’ for attracting hollow-dependent fauna to farm forestry plantations in southeast Queensland. Ecological Management & Restoration 3, 37–46.
CrossRef |

Soderquist, T. R. (1993). Maternal strategies of Phascogale tapoatafa (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). II. Juvenile thermoregulation and maternal attendance. Australian Journal of Zoology 41, 567–576.
CrossRef |

Soderquist, T. R. (1995). Spatial organisation of the arboreal carnivorous marsupial Phascogale tapoatafa. Journal of Zoology 237, 385–398.


Soderquist, T. R. , and Ealey, L. (1994). Social interactions and mating strategies of a solitary carnivorous marsupial, Phascogale tapoatafa, in the wild. Wildlife Research 21, 527–542.
CrossRef |

Soderquist, T. , and Lill, A. (1993). Natal dispersal and philopatry in the carnivorous marsupial Phascogale tapoatafa (Dasyuridae). Ethology 99, 297–312.


Soderquist, T. R. , Traill, B. J. , Faris, F. , and Beasley, K. (1996). Using nest boxes to survey for the brush-tailed phascogale Phascogale tapoatafa. Victorian Naturalist 113, 256–261.


Spring, D. A. , Bevers, M. , Kennedy, J. O. S. , and Harley, D. (2001). Economics of a nest-box program for the conservation of an endangered species: a reappraisal. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 31, 1992–2003.
CrossRef |

Suckling, G. C. (1982). Value of reserved habitat for mammal conservation in plantations. Australian Forestry 45, 19–27.


Suckling, G. C. , and Goldstraw, P. (1989). Progress of sugar glider, Petaurus breviceps, establishment at the Tower Hill State Game Reserve, Vic. Victorian Naturalist 106, 179–183.


Suckling, G. C. , and Macfarlane, M. A. (1983). Introduction of the sugar glider, Petaurus breviceps, into re-established forest of the Tower Hill State Game Reserve, Vic. Australian Wildlife Research 10, 249–258.
CrossRef |

Traill, B. J. , and Coates, T. D. (1993). Field observations on the brush-tailed phascogale Phascogale tapoatafa (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Australian Mammalogy 16, 61–65.


Traill, B. J. , and Lill, A. (1997). Use of tree hollows by two sympatric gliding possums, the squirrel glider, Petaurus norfolcensis and the sugar glider, P. breviceps. Australian Mammalogy 20, 79–88.


Turner, V. (1984). Eucalyptus pollen in the diet of the feathertail glider Acrobates pygmaeus (Marsupialia: Burramyidae). Australian Wildlife Research 11, 77–81.
CrossRef |

Tyndale-Biscoe, C. H. , and Calaby, J. H. (1975). Eucalypt forests as refuge for wildlife. Australian Forestry 38, 117–133.


van der Ree, R. (2002). The population ecology of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) within a network of remnant linear habitats. Wildlife Research 29, 329–340.
CrossRef |

Ward, S. J. (1990a). Life history of the feathertail glider, Acrobates pygmaeus (Acrobatidae: Marsupialia), in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 38, 503–517.
CrossRef |

Ward, S. J. (1990b). Life history of the eastern pygmy-possum, Cercartetus nanus (Burramyidae: Marsupialia), in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 38, 287–304.
CrossRef |

Ward, S. J. (2000). The efficacy of nest boxes versus spotlighting for detecting feathertail gliders. Wildlife Research 27, 75–79.
CrossRef |

Ward S. J. (2004). Patterns of movement and nesting in feathertail gliders. In ‘The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders’. (Eds R. L. Goldingay and S. M. Jackson.) pp. 285–289. (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Wardell-Johnson, G. (1986). Use of nest boxes by mardos, Antechinus flavipes leucogaster, in regenerating karri forest in south western Australia. Australian Wildlife Research 13, 407–417.
CrossRef |

Wood, M. S. , and Wallis, R. L. (1998). Potential competition for nest boxes between feral honeybees and sugar gliders at Tower Hill State Game Reserve. Victorian Naturalist 115, 78–80.



Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (45)