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

Multiple individual southern brown bandicoots (Isoodon obesulus fusciventer) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes) use underpasses installed at a new highway in Perth, Western Australia

Ian M. Harris A , Harriet R. Mills A and Roberta Bencini A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Animal Biology, The University of Western Australia, M092, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: Roberta.Bencini@uwa.edu.au

Wildlife Research 37(2) 127-133 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR09040
Submitted: 1 April 2009  Accepted: 4 February 2010   Published: 16 April 2010


Context. Although wildlife crossing structures are often included when new roads are built, their effectiveness at reconnecting wildlife populations is still largely unknown. A new highway was built in 2005 through an area of remnant vegetation in Perth, Western Australia. Assessment of the area before construction identified potential impacts on a population of southern brown bandicoots (Isoodon obesulus fusciventer).

Aims. We aimed to determine the use by bandicoots of three underpasses constructed to provide a linkage between habitats that were fragmented by the highway, focussing on how many different individuals used them, which is an essential step to demonstrate their effectiveness at reconnecting fragmented populations.

Methods. We used detection of tracks in sand pads for 1 year to establish the use of the underpasses by bandicoots. We then captured 56 bandicoots and fitted them with passive integrated transponders (PIT), and installed a Trovan 650 scanner/decoder within the most frequently used underpass to establish whether multiple individuals used it.

Key results. By using sand pads, we demonstrated that bandicoots used the underpasses, with a total of 278 passes between August 2005 and August 2006. One underpass accounted for 71% of these passes and was used already during construction. Eight different bandicoots were recorded using this underpass between August 2006 and August 2007, demonstrating use by multiple individuals. A dramatic decline in the use of this underpass was observed after foxes (Vulpes vulpes) also started using it in August 2006, and a fox built a den near the entrance of this structure. Because we also failed to recapture any of the bandicoots implanted with PITs we suspect that they had been killed by foxes.

Conclusions. A severe decline in bandicoots coinciding with underpass use by foxes raises questions as to the long-term success of fauna crossings. Clearly, the relationship between underpass use by predators and the target species, in this case bandicoots, needs to be examined further.

Implications. Our work demonstrated that although underpasses have the potential to reconnect populations because multiple individuals used them, their installation may be detrimental to wildlife populations if predators are not controlled.


We extend sincere thanks to Grethe Harris for the battery changes during the remote monitoring of Underpass B, Dr Mike Calver for advice on statistical analyses, the Roe Seven Alliance, for purchasing the Trovan 650 decoder and a laptop computer for the remote monitoring, and Professor Darryl Jones, Dr Brendan Taylor, the reviewers and Dr Andrea Taylor (Editor) of Wildlife Research for their insightful comments on our manuscript.


Australian Museum Business Services (1997). Fauna usage of three underpasses beneath the F3 freeway between Sydney and Newcastle. Report to the Roads and Traffic Authority, New South Wales, Sydney.

Australian Museum Business Services (2001 a). Fauna underpass monitoring stage one – final report – Taree. Report to the Roads and Traffic Authority, New South Wales, Sydney.

Australian Museum Business Services (2001 b). Fauna underpass monitoring stage one – final report, Brunswick Heads. Report to the Roads and Traffic Authority, New South Wales, Sydney.

Australian Museum Business Services (2001 c). Fauna underpass monitoring stage one – final report, Bulahdelah to Coolongolook. Report to the Roads and Traffic Authority, New South Wales, Sydney.

Australian Museum Business Services (2001 d). Fauna underpass monitoring stage one – final report, Herons Creek. Report to the Roads and Traffic Authority, New South Wales, Sydney.

Bamford M.J. , and Bamford A.R. (2004). Roe Highway stage 7 project: fauna plan. Unpublished. Report to the Roe 7 Alliance, Perth, WA.

Bond, A. R. , and Jones, D. N. (2008). Temporal trends in use of fauna-friendly underpasses and overpasses. Wildlife Research 35, 103–112.
CrossRef |

Braithwaite R. W. (1995). Southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus). In ‘The Mammals of Australia’. (Ed. R. Strahan.) pp. 176–177. (New Holland Publishers: Sydney.)

Claridge, A. W. , and Barry, S. C. (2000). Factors influencing the distribution of medium-sized ground-dwelling mammals in south-eastern mainland Australia. Austral Ecology 25, 676–688.

Clevenger, A. P. , and Waltho, N. (2000). Factors influencing the effectiveness of wildlife underpasses in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Conservation Biology 14, 47–56.
CrossRef |

Clevenger, A. P. , and Waltho, N. (2005). Performance indices to identify attributes of highway crossing structures facilitating movement of large mammals. Biological Conservation 121, 453–464.
CrossRef |

Corlatti, L. , Hackländer, K. , and Frey-Roos, F. (2009). Ability of wildlife overpasses to provide connectivity and prevent genetic isolation. Conservation Biology 23, 548–556.
CrossRef |

Dique, D. S. , Thompson, J. , Preece, H. J. , Penfold, G. C. , de Villiers, D. L. , and Leslie, R. S. (2003). Koala mortality on roads in south-east Queensland: the koala speed zone trial. Wildlife Research 30, 419–426.
CrossRef |

Dufty, A. C. (1991). Some population characteristics of Perameles gunnii in Victoria. Wildlife Research 18, 355–365.
CrossRef |

Forman, R. T. T. , and Alexander, L. E. (1998). Roads and their major ecological effects. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29, 207–231.
CrossRef |

Glista, D. J. , DeVault, T. L. , and DeWoody, J. A. (2009). A review of mitigation measures for reducing wildlife mortality on roadways. Landscape and Urban Planning 91, 1–7.
CrossRef |

Heinsohn, G. E. (1966). Ecology and reproduction of the Tasmanian bandicoots (Perameles gunnii and Isoodon obesulus). University of California Publications in Zoology 80, 1–107.

How, R. A. , and Dell, J. (2000). Ground vertebrate fauna of Perth’s vegetation remnants: impacts of 170 years of urbanisation. Pacific Conservation Biology 6, 198–217.

Jackson S. D. , and Griffin C. R. (2000). A strategy for mitigating highway impacts on wildlife. In ‘Wildlife and Highways: Seeking Solutions to an Ecological and Socio-economic Dilemma. Proceedings of the Symposium. 7th Annual Meeting of the Wildlife Society, 12–16 September, Nashville, TX’. (Eds T. A. Messmer and B. West.) pp. 143–159.

Jones, M. E. (2000). Road upgrade, road mortality and remedial measures: impacts on a population of eastern quolls and Tasmanian devils. Wildlife Research 27, 289–296.
CrossRef |

Kinnear, J. E. , Onus, M. L. , and Bromilow, R. N. (1988). Fox control and rock-wallaby population dynamics. Australian Wildlife Research 15, 435–450.
CrossRef |

Kinnear, J. E. , Sumner, N. R. , and Onus, M. L. (2002). The red fox in Australia – an exotic predator turned biocontrol agent. Biological Conservation 108, 335–359.
CrossRef |

Klöcker, U. , Croft, D. B. , and Ramp, D. (2006). Frequency and causes of kangaroo–vehicle collisions on an Australian outback highway. Wildlife Research 33, 5–15.
CrossRef |

Little, S. J. , Harcourt, R. G. , and Clevenger, A. P. (2002). Do wildlife passages act as prey traps? Biological Conservation 107, 135–145.
CrossRef |

Mata, C. , Hervas, I. , Herranz, J. , Suarez, F. , and Malo, J. E. (2005). Complementary use by vertebrates of crossing structures along a fenced Spanish motorway. Biological Conservation 124, 397–405.
CrossRef |

Maxwell S. , Burbridge A. A. , and Morris K. (Eds) (1996). The 1996 action plan for Australian marsupials and monotremes. Wildlife Australia, Canberra.

Phillips V. (2006). Aliens in the underpass: the Busselton Bypass underpass benefits feral animals. B.Sc. (Honours) Thesis, The University of Western Australia, Perth.

Ramp, D. , Caldwell, J. , Edwards, K. A. , Warton, D. , and Croft, D. B. (2005). Modelling of wildlife fatality hotspots along the Snowy Mountain Highway in New South Wales, Australia. Biological Conservation 126, 474–490.
CrossRef |

Russell, B. G. , and Banks, P. B. (2005). Responses of four critical weight range (CWR) marsupials to the odours of native and introduced predators. Australian Zoologist 33, 217–222.

Saunders G. , Coman B. , Kinnear J. , and Braysher M. (1995). ‘Managing Vertebrate Pests. Foxes.’ (Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra.)

Scott, L. K. , Hume, I. D. , and Dickman, C. R. (1999). Ecology and population biology of long-nosed bandicoots (Perameles nasuta) at North Head, Sydney Harbour National Park. Wildlife Research 26, 805–821.
CrossRef |

Stenhouse, R. N. (2004). Fragmentation and internal disturbance of native vegetation reserves in the Perth metropolitan area, Western Australia. Landscape and Urban Planning 68, 389–401.

Stoddart, D. M. , and Braithwaite, R. W. (1979). A strategy for utilisation of regenerating heathland habitat by the brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus; Marsupialia, Peramelidae). Journal of Animal Ecology 48, 165–179.
CrossRef |

Taylor, B. D. , and Goldingay, R. L. (2003). Cutting the carnage: wildlife usage of road culverts in north-eastern New South Wales. Wildlife Research 30, 529–537.
CrossRef |

Thomas L. N. (1987). The effects of stress on some aspects of the demography and physiology of Isoodon obesulus. M.Sc. Thesis. The University of Western Australia, Perth.

Triggs B. (2004). ‘Tracks, Scats and Other Traces. A Field Guide to Australian Mammals.’ (Oxford University Press: Melbourne.)

Watson A. S. , and Halley M. (1999). Recovery plan for the eastern barred bandicoot Perameles gunnii (mainland species). Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria.

Zenger, K. R. , Eldridge, M. D. B. , and Johnston, P. G. (2005). Phylogenetics, population structure and genetic diversity of the endangered southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus) in south-eastern Australia. Conservation Genetics 6, 193–204.
CrossRef |

Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (10)