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

The use of hollow-bearing trees retained in multi-aged regenerating production forest by the Tasmanian common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula fuliginosus)

Lisa Cawthen A B C D and Sarah Munks A B C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A University of Tasmania, School of Zoology, Private Bag 05, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

B Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority, 30 Patrick Street, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

C CRC for Forestry, Private Bag 12, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: lcawthen@utas.edu.au

Wildlife Research 38(8) 687-695 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR10125
Submitted: 28 July 2010  Accepted: 20 October 2011   Published: 2 December 2011

Abstract

Context: Hollow-bearing trees are frequently retained in timber-production areas as part of measures to mitigate against the impacts of forest harvesting on fauna, yet few studies have investigated the effectiveness of such measures. Such studies are essential for adaptive forest management.

Aims: The main aim of the present study was to evaluate the use of hollow-bearing trees retained in harvested and unharvested forest as den sites by the Tasmanian common brushtail possum. In particular, we examined the distribution and types of hollow-bearing trees used as den sites and whether or not their use in harvested sites was influenced by time since harvest.

Methods: Thirty brushtail possums were radio-tracked to their day-time den sites between March 2007–July 2007 and July 2008–October 2008, at five dry Eucalyptus forest sites (three regenerating after partial harvest with hollow-bearing trees retained inside the coupe and two in relatively undisturbed forest) in south-eastern Tasmania, Australia.

Key results: The brushtail possums tracked in the study denned primarily in hollow-bearing trees at both the harvested and unharvested sites. At sites regenerating 8 and 10 years after harvest, most den site locations were in trees retained outside the harvest area, in large patches. In contrast, at the site regenerating 17 years after harvest, isolated trees and small patches within the harvested area were used.

Conclusions: Hollow-bearing trees retained within harvest areas do provide habitat for hollow-dependent fauna such as the common brushtail possum and enable recolonisation of harvested areas in the medium term. However, in the short term these trees may not be used and hollow-bearing trees retained in the surrounding landscape are important for providing refuge as the harvested area regenerates.

Implications: The retention of hollow-bearing trees in harvested areas may be an effective measure at enabling recolonisation of harvested areas once suitable habitat regenerates, but it is also important to ensure that large patches of mature forest (containing hollows) are retained in the surrounding landscape to ensure the persistence of hollow-using fauna.


References

Anak Pattanavibool, W. D. E. (1996). Single-tree selection silviculture affects cavity resources in mixed deciduous forests in Thailand. Journal of Wildlife Management 60, 67–73.
Single-tree selection silviculture affects cavity resources in mixed deciduous forests in Thailand.CrossRef |

Banks, S. C., Ward, S. J., Lindenmayer, D. B., Finlayson, G. R., Lawson, S. J., and Taylor, A. C. (2005). The effects of habitat fragmentation on the social kin structure and mating system of the agile antechinus, Antechinus agilis. Molecular Ecology 14, 1789–1801.
The effects of habitat fragmentation on the social kin structure and mating system of the agile antechinus, Antechinus agilis.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BD2M3gsVWnug%3D%3D&md5=e4b24b61a82bd6d321da93d602af17f1CAS |

Bilney, R. J., White, J. G., L’Hotellier, F. A., and Cooke, R. (2011). Spatial ecology of sooty owls in south-eastern Australian coastal forests: implications for forest management and reserve design. Emu 111, 92–99.
Spatial ecology of sooty owls in south-eastern Australian coastal forests: implications for forest management and reserve design.CrossRef |

Blewett, C. M., and Marzluff, J. M. (2005). Effects of urban sprawl on snags and the abundance and productivity of cavity-nesting birds The Condor 107, 678–693.
Effects of urban sprawl on snags and the abundance and productivity of cavity-nesting birdsCrossRef |

Campbell, S., Lumsden, L. F., Kirkwood, R., and Coulson, G. (2005). Day roost selection by female little forest bats (Vespadelus vulturnus) within remnant woodland on Phillip Island, Victoria. Wildlife Research 32, 183–191.
Day roost selection by female little forest bats (Vespadelus vulturnus) within remnant woodland on Phillip Island, Victoria.CrossRef |

Cawthen, L., and Munks, S. (2011). The design and testing of linen thread weak-links in brushtail possum radio-collars. Australian Mammalogy 33, 33–35.
The design and testing of linen thread weak-links in brushtail possum radio-collars.CrossRef |

Commonwealth of Australia and State of Tasmania (1997) Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and State of Tasmania. Commonwealth of Australia and State of Tasmania, Hobart.

Crane, M. J., Montague-Drake, R. M., Cunningham, R. B., and Lindenmayer, D. B. (2008). The characteristics of den trees used by the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) in temperate Australian woodlands. Wildlife Research 35, 663–675.
The characteristics of den trees used by the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) in temperate Australian woodlands.CrossRef |

Duncan, A. M. R., and Taylor, R. J. (2001). Occurrence of pygmy possums, Cercartetus lepidus and C. nanus, and their nest sites in logged and unlogged dry and wet eucalypt forest in Tasmania. Australian Forestry 64, 159–164.

Flynn, E. M., Jones, S. M., Jones, M. E., Jordan, G. J., and Munks, S. A. (2011). Characteristics of mammal communities in Tasmanian forests: exploring the influence of forest type and disturbance history. Wildlife Research 38, 13–29.
Characteristics of mammal communities in Tasmanian forests: exploring the influence of forest type and disturbance history.CrossRef |

Forest Practices Authority (2007). ‘State of The Forests Tasmania 2006.’ (Forest Practices Authority: Hobart.)

Forest Practices Board (2000). ‘Forest Practices Code.’ (Forest Practices Authority: Hobart.)

Forestry Commission (1994). Silvicultural Systems. In ‘Native Forest Silviculture Technical Bulletin No. 5’. (Ed. G Wilkinson) pp. 6–7. (Forestry Tasmania: Hobart.)

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. (2002). Hollow selection by vertebrate fauna in forests of southeastern Australia and implications for forest management. Biological Conservation 103, 1–12.
Hollow selection by vertebrate fauna in forests of southeastern Australia and implications for forest management.CrossRef |

Heinsohn, R., Murphy, S., and Legge, S. (2003). Overlap and competition for nest holes amongst eclectus parrots, palm cockatoos and sulphur-crested cockatoos. Australian Journal of Zoology 51, 81–94.
Overlap and competition for nest holes amongst eclectus parrots, palm cockatoos and sulphur-crested cockatoos.CrossRef |

Hocking, G. (1981) The population ecology of the brush-tailed possum, Trichosurus vulpecula (KERR), in Tasmania. M.Sc. Thesis, School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Hobart.

Humphrey, S. R. (1975). Nursery roosts and community diversity of nearctic bats. Journal of Mammalogy 56, 321–346.
Nursery roosts and community diversity of nearctic bats.CrossRef |

Hynes, K. L. (1999). The sternal integument and scent marking in the brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula: gender and seasonal differences. Ph.D. Thesis, School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Hobart.

Johnson, M. D. (2007). Measuring habitat quality: a review. The Condor 109, 489–504.
Measuring habitat quality: a review.CrossRef |

Jones, M. E., and Barmuta, L. A. (1998). Diet overlap and relative abundance of sympatric dasyurid carnivores: a hypothesis of competition. Journal of Animal Ecology 67, 410–421.
Diet overlap and relative abundance of sympatric dasyurid carnivores: a hypothesis of competition.CrossRef |

Koch, A., Munks, S., and Driscoll, D. (2008a). The use of hollow-bearing trees by vertebrate fauna in wet and dry Eucalyptus obliqua forest, Tasmania. Wildlife Research 35, 727–746.
The use of hollow-bearing trees by vertebrate fauna in wet and dry Eucalyptus obliqua forest, Tasmania.CrossRef |

Koch, A. J., Munks, S. A., and Woehler, E. J. (2008b). Hollow-using vertebrate fauna of Tasmania: distribution, hollow requirements and conservation status. Australian Journal of Zoology 56, 323–349.
Hollow-using vertebrate fauna of Tasmania: distribution, hollow requirements and conservation status.CrossRef |

Koch, A., Wapstra, M., and Munks, S. A. (2009). Re-examining the use of retained trees for nesting birds in logged dry eucalypt forest in north-eastern Tasmania: 11 years on. Tasmanian Bird Report 33, 4–9.

Le Mar, K. (2002). Spatial organisation and habitat selection patterns of three marsupial herbivores within a patchy forestry environment. Ph.D. Thesis, School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Hobart.

Le Mar, K., and McArthur, C. (2005a). Comparison of habitat selection by two sympatric macropods, Thylogale billardierii and Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus, in a patchy eucalypt-forestry environment. Austral Ecology 30, 674–683.
Comparison of habitat selection by two sympatric macropods, Thylogale billardierii and Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus, in a patchy eucalypt-forestry environment.CrossRef |

Le Mar, K., and McArthur, C. (2005b). Habitat selection by common brushtail possums in a patchy eucalypt-forestry environment. Australian Mammalogy 27, 119–127.

Lindenmayer, D. B., and Franklin, J. F. (2002). ‘Conserving Forest Biodiversity – A Comprehensive Multiscaled Approach.’ (Island Press: London.)

Lindenmayer, D. B., Cunningham, R. B., Tanton, M. T., Smith, A. P., and Nix, H. A. (1990). The conservation of arboreal marsupials in the montane ash forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria, south-east Australia: I. Factors influencing the occupancy of trees with hollows. Biological Conservation 54, 111–131.
The conservation of arboreal marsupials in the montane ash forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria, south-east Australia: I. Factors influencing the occupancy of trees with hollows.CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B., Cunningham, R. B., Tanton, M. T., Smith, A. P., and Nix, H. A. (1991a). Characteristics of hollow-bearing trees occupied by arboreal marsupials in the montane ash forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria – south-east Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 40, 289–308.
Characteristics of hollow-bearing trees occupied by arboreal marsupials in the montane ash forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria – south-east Australia.CrossRef |

Lindenmayer, D. B., Cunningham, R. B., Tanton, M. T., Smith, A. P., and Nix, H. A. (1991b). Characteristics of hollow-bearing trees occupied by arboreal marsupials in the montane ash forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria. south-east Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 40, 289–308.
Characteristics of hollow-bearing trees occupied by arboreal marsupials in the montane ash forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria. south-east Australia.CrossRef |

Lohmus, A., and Remm, J. (2005). Nest quality limits the number of hole-nesting passerines in their natural cavity-rich habitat. Acta Oecologica 27, 125–128.
Nest quality limits the number of hole-nesting passerines in their natural cavity-rich habitat.CrossRef |

Lunney, D., Barker, J., and Priddel, D. (1985). Movements and day roosts of the chocolate wattled bat Chalinolobus morio (Gray) (Microchiroptera: Vespertilionidae) in a logged forest. Australian Mammalogy 8, 313–317.

Lunney, D., Barker, J., Priddel, D., and O’Connel, M. (1988). Roost selection by Gould’s long-eared bat, Nyctophilus gouldi Tomes (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae), in logged forest on the south coast of New South Wales. Australian Wildlife Research 15, 375–384.
Roost selection by Gould’s long-eared bat, Nyctophilus gouldi Tomes (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae), in logged forest on the south coast of New South Wales.CrossRef |

MacDonald, M. A., Apiolaza, L. A., and Grove, S. (2005). The birds of retained vegetation corridors: a pre- and post-logging comparison in dry sclerophyll forest in Tasmania. Forest Ecology and Management 218, 277–290.
The birds of retained vegetation corridors: a pre- and post-logging comparison in dry sclerophyll forest in Tasmania.CrossRef |

Martin, J. K., and Handasyde, K. A. (2007). Comparison of bobuck (Trichosurus cunninghami) demography in two habitat types in the Strathbogie Ranges Australian Journal of Zoology 271, 375–385.

McComb, W. C., and Noble, R. E. (1982). Invertebrate use of natural tree cavities and vertebrate nest boxes. American Midland Naturalist 107, 163–171.

Mech, L. (1983). ‘Handbook of Animal Radio-tracking.’ (University of Minnesota: Minneapolis, MN.).

Munks, S. A., Mooney, N., Pemberton, D., and Gales, R. (2004). Reprinted from ‘The Biology of Australian Possums and Gliders – An Update on the Distribution and Statue of Possums and Gliders in Tasmania, including off-shore Islands.’ (Surrey Beatty: Sydney.).

Munks, S. A., Koch, A. J., and Wapstra, M. (2009). From guiding principles for the conservation of forest biodiversity to on-ground practice: lessons from tree hollow management in Tasmania. Forest Ecology and Management 258, 516–524.
From guiding principles for the conservation of forest biodiversity to on-ground practice: lessons from tree hollow management in Tasmania.CrossRef |

Nelson, J. L., and Morris, B. J. (1994). Nesting requirements of the yellow-tailed black-cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus funereus, in Eucalyptus regnans forest, and implications for management. Wildlife Research 21, 267–278.
Nesting requirements of the yellow-tailed black-cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus funereus, in Eucalyptus regnans forest, and implications for management.CrossRef |

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

Olsen P. (2005). ‘Wedge-tailed Eagle.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Pickett, K. N., Hik, D. S., Newsome, A. E., and Pech, R. P. (2005). The influence of predation risk on foraging behaviour of brushtail possums in Australian woodlands. Wildlife Research 32, 121–130.
The influence of predation risk on foraging behaviour of brushtail possums in Australian woodlands.CrossRef |

Rhind, S. G. (2004). Direct impacts of logging and forest management on the brush-tailed phascogale Phascogale tapoatafa and other arboreal marsupials in a jarrah forest of Western Australia. In ‘Conservation of Australia’s Forest Fauna’. (Ed. D. Lunney.) pp. 639–55. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW.

Saunders, D., Smith, G., and Rowley, I. (1982). The availability and dimensions of tree hollows that provide nest sites for cockatoos (Psittaciformes) in Western Australia. Wildlife Research 9, 541–556.
The availability and dimensions of tree hollows that provide nest sites for cockatoos (Psittaciformes) in Western Australia.CrossRef |

Statham, M., and Statham, H. L. (1997). Movements and habits of brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr) in an urban area. Wildlife Research 24, 715–726.
Movements and habits of brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr) in an urban area.CrossRef |

Stone, M. (1998). Forest-type mapping by photo-interpretation: a multi-purpose base for Tasmania’s forest management. Tasforests 10, 1–15.

Taylor, A. C., and Savva, N. M. (1988). Use of roost stes by four species of bats in State Forest in south-eastern Tasmania. Australian Wildlife Research 15, 637–645.
Use of roost stes by four species of bats in State Forest in south-eastern Tasmania.CrossRef |

Tyndale-Biscoe, C. H., and Smith, R. F. C. (1969). Studies on the marsupial glider, Schoinobates volans (Kerr): III. Response to habitat destruction. Journal of Animal Ecology 38, 651–659.
Studies on the marsupial glider, Schoinobates volans (Kerr): III. Response to habitat destruction.CrossRef |

van der Ree, R., Bennett, A. F., and Soderquist, T. R. (2006). Nest-tree selection by the threatened brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa). Wildlife Research 33, 113–119.
Nest-tree selection by the threatened brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa).CrossRef |

Wapstra, M., and Taylor, R. J. (1998). Use of retained trees for nesting by birds in logged eucalypt forest in north-eastern Tasmania. Australian Forestry 61, 48–52.

Ward, G. D. (1978). Habitat use and home range of radio-tagged opossums Trichosurus vulpecula (Kerr) in New Zealand lowland forest. In ‘The ecology of arboreal folivores’. (Ed. G. G. Montgomery.) pp. 267–87. (Smithsonian Institution Press: Washington, DC.)

Wayne, D. F. (2005). The ecology of the Koomal (Trichosurus vulpecula hypoleucus) and Ngwayir (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) in the jarrah forests of south-western Australia. Ph.D. Thesis, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University, Canberra.

Webala, P. W., Craig, M. D., Law, B. S., Wayne, A. F., and Bradley, J. S. (2010). Roost site selection by southern forest bat Vespadelus regulus and Gould’s long-eared bat Nyctophilus gouldi in logged jarrah forests; south-western Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 260, 1780–1790.

Webb, J. K., and Shine, R. (1997). Out on a limb: conservation implications of tree-hollow use by a threatened snake species (Hoplocephalus bungaroides: Serptentes, Elapidae). Biological Conservation 81, 21–33.
Out on a limb: conservation implications of tree-hollow use by a threatened snake species (Hoplocephalus bungaroides: Serptentes, Elapidae).CrossRef |

Winter, J. W. (1976). The behaviour and social organisation of the brush-tail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula: Kerr). Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Zoology, University of Queensland, Brisbane.



Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (4)