Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Terrestrial mammals of the Gnangara Groundwater System, Western Australia: history, status, and the possible impacts of a drying climate

Barbara A. Wilson A C , Leonie E. Valentine A B , Alice Reaveley A , Joanne Isaac A and Kristen M. Wolfe A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Gnangara Sustainability Strategy, Department of Environment and Conservation, PO Box 1167, Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983, Australia.

B WA State Centre of Excellence for Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: barbara.wilson@dec.wa.gov.au

Australian Mammalogy 34(2) 202-216 https://doi.org/10.1071/AM11040
Submitted: 10 October 2011  Accepted: 29 January 2012   Published: 8 June 2012

Abstract

Over the last 30 years declining rainfall and increased aquifer abstraction have heavily impacted water availability and ecosystems on the Gnangara Groundwater System (GGS). The mammal fauna of the area is considered to have been rich, with up to 28 terrestrial and 5 volant native species recorded since European settlement. This study investigated previous and current distribution of mammals on the GGS, and assessed potential impacts of predicted rainfall and groundwater declines on mammals. A general survey was conducted at 40 sites, and targeted trapping was undertaken for Hydromys chrysogaster and Isoodon obesulus fusciventer at wetlands. Nine native and seven introduced terrestrial mammal species were recorded during the general survey and capture rates were very low (1.05%). The most commonly captured native species was Tarsipes rostratus. There is evidence that only 11 (9 recorded and 2 considered to be extant) of the 28 historically recorded terrestrial native mammals still persist in the area. The species predicted to be most susceptible to rainfall and groundwater level declines include H. chrysogaster, I. obesulus fusciventer, and T. rostratus. Management and recovery actions required to protect mammals under predicted climatic changes include identification and maintenance of refugia and ecological linkages, supplementation of lakes, development of ecologically appropriate fire regimes, and control of predators.

Additional keywords: aquifer, ecological linkages, fire regimes, groundwater dependency, Northern Swan Coastal Plain.


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