The financial cost of GPS tracking devices for wildlife research can be a limiting or prohibitive factor for many projects. We describe the modification and use of relatively new and inexpensive off-the-shelf GPS devices for tracking wildlife for as little as US$50. This method is inexpensive, accurate, re-useable and has enormous potential to contribute to wildlife research at a fraction of the cost of traditional GPS technology. Photograph by Blake Allan.
Volume 40 Number 5 2013
WR13106Do measures of plant intake and digestibility from captive feeding trials align with foraging patterns of free-ranging snowshoe hares?
Few studies have asked if plant rankings in captive feeding trials correspond with browsing patterns of wild herbivores. We compared feeding by snowshoe hares in captive feeding trials to that of free-living hares in Idaho, USA. We found that captive and wild hares both relied on conifers with high digestible protein content, suggesting that results of captive feeding trials can predict feeding patterns of free-living herbivores and habitat quality for hares in the species’ south-western range may be influenced by access to protein. Photograph by Tiffany Stoddart.
Eucalyptus wandoo woodlands of Western Australia are one of the many forests and woodlands declining worldwide. Live capture trapping of reptile communities in E. wandoo woodlands determined that reptile abundance and species richness was higher in areas exhibiting fewer E. wandoo decline symptoms, more site leaf litter and a longer time since fire. Management of E. wandoo woodlands in the future should consider reducing the occurrence of fire events, particularly in areas undergoing a decline in condition. Photograph by Trish Fleming.
Wild boar is a host of bovine tuberculosis and can prevent the eradication of the disease from livestock in areas where they coexist. We investigated whether vaccination was effective at reducing the proportion of infected wild boar in the population after 25 years. Our results indicated that the long-term vaccination of wild boar piglets could potentially contribute to the eradication of disease from the livestock. Photograph by Catherine Cowie.
WR12198Marine turtle nest depredation by feral pigs (Sus scrofa) on the Western Cape York Peninsula, Australia: implications for management
Pennefarther Beach, on the Cape York Peninsula, is a major nesting beach for flatback, olive ridley and hawksbill turtles, all of which are endangered, or of conservation concern. We confirmed that feral pig depredation of nests is the major threat to sea turtles in this region. Current management of feral pigs involves broad-scale aerial shooting, which is expensive. We found evidence that pig activity causes nest loss in localised clusters, suggesting targeted eradication of individual pigs at specific locations might be a more cost-effective management strategy. Photograph by Jim Mitchell.
WR13058Characteristics of refugia used by the threatened Australian growling grass frog (Litoria raniformis) during a prolonged drought
Extreme climatic events such as droughts can profoundly affect wildlife and be particularly problematic for threatened species that are reliant on water. A decade-long drought occurred across the range of the threatened growling grass frog, allowing us to demonstrate that refugia for this species in rural Victoria is characterised by permanent water low in salinity with a high cover of aquatic vegetation. Management that retains or creates habitat that includes these features will aid the conservation of this species. Photograph by Nick Clemann.
WR13057Factors influencing detection probabilities of frogs in the monsoonal tropics of northern Australia: implications for the design of monitoring studies
Information on frog species in the Top End remains limited and robust methods for sampling species need development. Failure to acknowledge potential bias from imperfect detection of cryptic organisms such as frogs may compromise survey and monitoring programmes targeting these species. We used frog call census data to model detection probabilities and to estimate sampling effort required for adequate surveys. This will allow the design of programmes to monitor frog populations and evaluate impacts of pressures on species and communities. Photograph by Peter Dostine.
WR13050Deslorelin implants in free-ranging female eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus): mechanism of action and contraceptive efficacy
Fertility control offers a non-lethal management technique for iconic yet overabundant wildlife. We tested a slow-release hormonal implant, deslorelin, under realistic management conditions and found it suppressed fertility over three breeding seasons. As females must be re-treated throughout their life, this technique is best suited to peri-urban reserves where females are relatively easy to capture and implantation can be timed to optimise the contraceptive duration. Photograph by Graeme Coulson.
WR13010Are there habitat thresholds in koala occupancy in the semiarid landscapes of the Mulgalands Bioregion?
Identifying minimum amounts of habitat required by a species to occupy landscapes can help conservation decisions. We investigated the minimum amounts of habitat koalas require to occupy semiarid landscapes of Queensland’s Mulgalands Bioregion using threshold and linear models, finding thresholds on the amount of primary trees at the site scale and linear relationships on amount of habitat at four landscape scales. This is important because removal of habitat will likely cause a linear decline in koala populations in the region. Photograph by Andrew Smith.
It is crucial that the mechanisms driving and altering species distributions across gradients are identified, allowing for effective management. We used presence-only modelling to predict potential habitat for the powerful owl across an urban–forest gradient and identify eco-geographical variables driving this species distribution across the gradient. Proportional analysis identified potential habitat change along the gradient. Management of this apex predator, across an urban to forest gradient will allow an ‘umbrella’ management approach, conserving lower trophic species. Photograph by Bronwyn Isaac.