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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 34(3)

Importance of canopy connectivity for home range and movements of the rainforest arboreal ringtail possum (Hemibelideus lemuroides)

Robyn F. Wilson A C, Helene Marsh A, John Winter B

A Tropical Environment Studies and Geography, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns, Qld 4811, Australia.
B PO Box 151, Ravenshoe, Qld 4888, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: robyn.wilson@jcu.edu.au
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Roads and powerline corridors destroy canopy connectivity in the rainforest of north-east Australia. We tested the hypotheses that linear barriers affect (a) the alignment of home ranges, (b) use of habitat either side of linear barriers, and (c) the crossing of them by the strictly arboreal lemuroid ringtail possum (Hemibelideus lemuroides), which is known to be vulnerable to habitat fragmentation. Radio-tracking and a translocation experiment were conducted at a narrow 7-m-wide road and an 80-m-wide powerline. Homes ranges of lemuroid ringtails ranged from 0.15 to 1.67 ha (minimum convex polygon) and were aligned with the road but not powerline corridors. When lemuroid ringtails were experimentally translocated, wider canopy clearings over roads reduced their capacity to return to their original home range, and the powerline corridor was a nearly insurmountable barrier. No possums were observed crossing roads or the powerline corridor at ground level or residing in the intervening matrix, indicating that loss of canopy connectivity has a negative impact on their movements.

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