Identifying predator species from their scats, footprints or prey remains can be problematic. We used three methods (DNA analysis, camera traps and scat analysis) to identify the predator of adult freshwater turtles and their nests. All three methods confirm that the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was responsible. Application of these methods will inform effective conservation management strategies.
Volume 43 Number 8 2016
Because feral cats have been found to hunt extensively in intense fire scars in north-western Australia, we aimed to test the generality of this pattern by measuring cat habitat selection in far north-eastern Australia. Feral cats demonstrated strong selection for recent fire scars, open wetlands, yet avoided rainforests. This suggests that impacts of feral cats can be mitigated by managing fire regimes, and targeting control efforts to their preferred habitats. Photograph by Alex Hartshorne.
WR16109Winter durability of pygmy bluetongue lizard burrows is higher for occupied than for unoccupied burrows and for those in less-grazed neighbourhoods
Endangered pygmy bluetongue lizards spend most of their lives in spider burrows, and access to suitable burrows are therefore essential to the survival of the species. We found that intensive sheep grazing increases the deterioration of suitable lizard burrows. As almost all known pygmy bluetongue lizard habitats are used for live stock grazing, knowledge about the effect of grazing is essential to the future management of the species.
WR16127Less fuel for the fire: malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) nesting activity affects fuel loads and fire behaviour
There is growing appreciation of the potential for fauna to affect fire regimes, but these interactions remain poorly understood. This study showed that nest building by malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) reduced litter fuel loads and hence the likelihood and intensity of fires in the area around nests. Malleefowl nesting may contribute to more heterogeneous fire patterns, and therefore affect ecosystem function, in the fire-prone mallee system.
Hunters show heterogeneous preferences. A price reference for each one of the characteristics of driven hunts is estimated using a discrete choice experiment. Hunters exclusively hunting small game show clear preference patterns against the big hunting.
Prairie dogs can cause extensive damage in urban and suburban environments and management of their populations is controversial, requiring lethal and non-lethal methods. DiazaCon, a cholesterol synthesis inhibitor and contraceptive agent, was given to wild prairie dogs in a bait and reduced reproduction by 95.5%. DiazaCon may be a useful, non-lethal management tool in reducing prairie dog populations.
Understanding spatial drivers of coyote abundance in areas they recently colonized should help predict spatial variation in the effects of coyotes on food webs. Therefore, we conducted howl-response surveys and found that coyote abundance was positively related to grasslands and negatively associated with fragmentation. Our results highlight the importance of patch type and landscape juxtaposition on coyote abundance.
Understanding habitat use and selection by threatened ungulates is a crucial prerequisite for developing effective conservation strategies. We monitored vulnerable takins in the Qinling Mountains of China and found that they preferred mountainous forest at the landscape scale and needed more diverse forest habitats at the home-range scale. Many measures, such as maintaining a diversity of forest habitats, are recommended to conserve this ungulate species. Photograph by Zhi-Gao Zeng.
WR16114Novel grass–endophyte associations reduce the feeding behaviour of invasive European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Small mammalian herbivores can have unwanted impacts on agriculture and attract birds of prey to airports, increasing bird strike. We developed and assessed grass–endophyte associations to determine their feeding-deterrent properties towards rabbits. In comparison to endophyte-free grasses, less herbage was consumed from endophyte-infected plots, inferring that endophytes have great potential for deterring problem wildlife at airports and other amenity areas. Photograph by Kev Drew.
WR16138The impact of sheep grazing on the depth of spider burrows and of burrows selected by the pygmy bluetongue lizard (Tiliqua adelaidensis)
The endangered pygmy bluetongue lizard occupies spider burrows in sheep-grazed grasslands. We investigated the impact of sheep grazing on burrow destruction and depth – grazing resulted in trampling of shallow burrows not used by lizards. Moderate sheep grazing may not impact on lizard burrow abundance or depth, but effects on burrowing spiders, vital to lizard persistence remain unknown. Photograph by J. Clayton.