Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Decline of the dasyurid marsupial Antechinus minimus maritimus in south-east Australia: implications for recovery and management under a drying climate

Barbara A. Wilson A B , Lily Zhuang-Griffin A and Mark J. Garkaklis A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Burwood, Vic. 3125, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: barbara.wilson@deakin.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology - https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO17041
Submitted: 2 August 2017  Accepted: 1 November 2017   Published online: 22 November 2017

Abstract

Our understanding of recent extinctions and declines of Australian mammals is poor, particularly where there is a paucity of data to quantify change. The swamp antechinus (A. m. maritimus) has a fragmented, coastal distribution in south-east Australia. Although long-term studies (1975–2007) of this vulnerable species were conducted in the eastern Otways, its current status was unclear. We assessed the success of live trapping and camera trapping (2013–17) at 42 sites, 19 where the species was trapped previously. Between 2013 and 2015 A. m. maritimus was recorded at only 6 sites (n = 8), but at none in 2016–17. Assessment of long-term changes found that high-density populations occurred after above-average rainfall, and both low- and high-density populations collapsed after wildfire, after low rainfall, and in fragmented habitat. The species may now be restricted to very small populations in refuges such as coastal dunes, and predicted low rainfall and increased burning frequency pose major threats to the species’ survival. Recovery is unlikely without targeted management, including predator control and protection from inappropriate fire regimes and habitat fragmentation. If similar declines have been experienced across the species’ range, prevention of extinction of the species will require similar management strategies.

Additional keywords: fire, population, rainfall, swamp antechinus.


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