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

Wildlife Research

Volume 39 Number 5 2012

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In light of the current biodiversity crisis, with species being lost at unprecedented rates, it is important that we have the ability to collect vital life-history information from animals if we are to be able to scientifically manage their survival. Concern by animal welfare advocates that curtails this research may hamper or eliminate this process and jeopardise effective conservation management. We outline how researchers may take the lead in this debate by measuring the effects of these activities, and by publishing and promoting the consequences of this research on animals in the public domain. Photograph by Clive McMahon.

WR11196Long-term effects of immunocontraception on wild boar fertility, physiology and behaviour

Giovanna Massei, Dave P. Cowan, Julia Coats, Fiona Bellamy, Roger Quy, Stéphane Pietravalle, Matthew Brash and Lowell A. Miller
pp. 378-385
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Fertility control to manage wildlife is increasingly advocated as a humane alternative to culling. We found that a single injectable dose of the immunocontraceptive vaccine GonaCon™ suppressed reproduction of captive female wild boar for 4–6 years with no other long-term side-effects. GonaCon™ should be tested in contexts where culling is unfeasible, illegal or unacceptable such as in urban areas, parks and in management of diseases where culling might cause social perturbation and result in increased disease transmission rates. Photograph © Fera (Food and Environment Research Agency)

WR11137Signals of change in tropical savanna woodland vertebrate fauna 5 years after cessation of livestock grazing

A. S. Kutt, E. P. Vanderduys, J. J. Perry, G. C. Perkins, J. E. Kemp, B. L. Bateman, J. Kanowski and R. Jensen
pp. 386-396

Some fauna of the Australia tropical savannas are showing signs of worrying decline. Modifying fire and grazing management in some regions has indicated rapid species recovery. We monitored fauna over five years in a conservation reserve in north-eastern Queensland to assess the response to the removal of cattle and horses. We found little obvious trend over this period that suggests that in areas with a very long history of pastoral land use the fauna recovery may be slow. The re-establishment of some species may require direct intervention such as species reintroductions.

WR11213Monitoring indicates greater resilience for birds than for mammals in Kakadu National Park, northern Australia

J. C. Z. Woinarski, A. Fisher, M. Armstrong, K. Brennan, A. D. Griffiths, B. Hill, J. Low Choy, D. Milne, A. Stewart, S. Young, S. Ward, S. Winderlich and M. Ziembicki
pp. 397-407
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Biodiversity is in decline across much of the world, but large conservation reserves should provide some security. However, recent monitoring programs have shown severe decline in Kakadu National Park for one important component of biodiversity, native mammals. The present study seeks to consider the generality of that pattern; it uses the same sampling sites as for the Kakadu mammal monitoring program, and demonstrates that (with the important exceptions of some threatened bird species) there is no comparable decline for the bird fauna. Photograph by Nina Trikojus.

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Turtle populations are declining worldwide, and although the ecology of adults of several species has been well studied, almost nothing is known about younger life stages. We examined habitat selection by hatchlings of two at-risk turtle species and found that individuals selected habitats at macro- and micro-spatial scales, and that selection differed between species. Our results indicate that habitat protection based on adult preferences of aquatic habitats and nesting sites should also protect the habitat for hatchlings. Photograph by James Paterson.

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Most medium-sized native mammals in central Australia have declined or become extinct, but the brush-tailed mulgara hangs on as a conspicuously successful survivor. In this study, populations at the northern and southern extremities of the species’ range behaved similarly and used a wide range of food and other resources to cope with changing conditions. The ecological and physiological flexibility of the mulgara may be the reason why it has survived whereas other, more specialised, native mammals have disappeared. Photograph by Chris Dickman.

We present an analysis of genetic diversity within a poorly known ‘species’ of gecko from the Kimberley region of northern-west Australia. In striking contrast to the two subspecies currently recognised, our analyses confirm the existence of a notable diversity of highly divergent lineages within the Kimberley, including at least 10 that are estimated to date to the late Pliocene/early Miocene (or earlier) and seven that we recognise as potential new species. Northern Australia is a frontier for biodiversity assessment and there is a pressing need for further surveys and genetic analyses to properly understand the diversity and conservation needs of the distinctive biota of this vast region.

WR11208Fire and grazing influence food resources of an endangered rock-wallaby

Katherine D. Tuft, Mathew S. Crowther and Clare McArthur
pp. 436-445
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Manipulation of fire and grazing can be used to improve the foraging resources of endangered herbivores. We tested burning as a conservation management strategy for brush-tailed rock-wallabies and found that fire improves food resources but benefits are negated by grazing from larger macropods. Recommendations are made for small-scale mosaic burning, with care taken to account for potentially negative grazing impacts. Photograph by Katherine Tuft.

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Despite the critical role of hunting in wildlife conservation, little research has explored the impact of demographic changes among hunters. Rapid demographic changes among hunters, associated with recruitment of older hunters or lack of recruitment among young hunters, may require wildlife managers to provide new forms of access and training. The result of this survey highlights the potential for hunting to persist as a relatively common activity in the face of rapid demographic change among hunters. Photograph by Hans Peter Hansen.

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Interpreting animal locations provided by GPS telemetry requires knowing what activities were performed at these locations. We inferred the activity states of three large ungulate species in Kruger National Park fitted with GPS collars from hourly movement rates by statistically assuming that they were generated by a mixture of the rates associated with each state: resting, foraging or travelling. The daily activity patterns derived using this method corresponded closely with those observed directly in other studies. Photograph by Steve Henley.

WR12012Predation risk and reproduction in the bank vole

Lenka Trebatická, Paula Suortti, Janne Sundell and Hannu Ylönen
pp. 463-468
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If you have several opportunities to reproduce in a life-time and one is risky, as the number of predators around is high and they use your sexual condition and reproductive cues to find and kill you, would you still reproduce or postpone it to a safer moment? We tested this idea using a replicated experiment with bank voles reproducing – or not – under high risk of weasel predation, and did not find any significant change in vole breeding. The short favourable summer in a strongly seasonal environment is too costly to lose for reproduction, but postponing reproduction in the worse parts of the breeding season still remains an open question. Photograph by Lenka Trebatická.

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