Stability of nest range, home range and movement of the northern bettong (Bettongia tropica) following moderate-intensity fire in a tropical woodland, north-eastern Queensland
Karl Vernes and Lisa Claire Pope
28(2) 141 - 150
Nest use, home-range characteristics and nightly movements by the northern bettong (Bettongia tropica) were examined before and after a low- to moderate-intensity fire in sclerophyll woodland in north-eastern Australia using radio-telemetry. In all, 23 animals were radio-tracked at three-month intervals between February 1995 and May 1996. During November 1995 a low-intensity experimental fire burned the entire home range of most animals. The northern bettong appeared fairly catholic in choice of nest site, with a variety of nest locations and nesting materials used. Prior to the fire, nests were generally located in areas of dense cover, such as the skirts of grass trees (46%) or grass close to a log (29%). After fire removed most ground cover in the nesting areas of most animals, bettongs used remaining shelter such as boulder piles (45%), recently fallen trees (8%) and patches of unburnt vegetation (21%). Nest areas (10.1 ha) of males were significantly larger than those of females (5.4 ha). Home ranges of both sexes were large (59 ha) and most ranges lacked distinct core areas, suggesting that bettongs used all parts of their home ranges equally. High mean rates of nightly movement by the northern bettong indicated that large distances were moved within home ranges during nightly foraging. No significant fire-related changes were detected in home-range size, home-range location, nest-area location or mean rates of nightly movement, suggesting that the northern bettong is well adapted to the low- and medium-intensity fires that characterise its habitat.
Full text doi:10.1071/WR00054
© CSIRO 2001