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

Predator swamping and supplementary feeding do not improve reintroduction success for a threatened Australian mammal, Bettongia lesueur

Hannah L. Bannister A D , Catherine E. Lynch B and Katherine E. Moseby B C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Animal Biology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Austalia.

B Arid Recovery, PO Box 147, Roxby Downs, SA 5725, Australia.

C Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: hannah_bannister@outlook.com

Australian Mammalogy 38(2) 177-187 https://doi.org/10.1071/AM15020
Submitted: 19 June 2015  Accepted: 7 December 2015   Published: 2 February 2016

Abstract

Broad-scale Australian mammal declines following European settlement have resulted in many species becoming regionally or globally extinct. Attempts to reintroduce native mammals are often unsuccessful due to a suboptimal number of founders being used, high rates of predation and a lack of knowledge of the reintroduction biology for the species concerned. We trialled predator swamping and supplementary feeding in an attempt to offset predation and improve reintroduction success for the burrowing bettong (Bettongia lesueur) in arid South Australia. We compared population longevity of a large release group (1266 animals) with five releases of smaller groups (~50 animals at each). We compared release sites with (n = 5) and without (n = 1) supplementary food to determine whether site fidelity, body condition and reproduction were affected, and whether these traits aided population establishment. Predator swamping did not facilitate reintroduction success, with no bettongs detected more than 122 days after release. While supplementary food increased site fidelity and persistence at release sites, bettongs failed to establish successfully at any site. Neither predator swamping nor supplementary feeding enhanced reintroduction success at our sites but results suggested that supplementary feeding should be explored as an aid to reintroduction success for Australian mammals.

Additional keywords: burrowing bettong, predator swamping, supplementary feeding, translocation.


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