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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 35(5)

Contrasting mammal responses to vegetation type and fire

D. B. Lindenmayer A D, C. MacGregor A, A. Welsh B, C. Donnelly A, M. Crane A, D. Michael A, R. Montague-Drake A, R. B. Cunningham A, D. Brown A, M. Fortescue C, N. Dexter C, M. Hudson C, A. M. Gill A

A Fenner School of Environment and Society, W.K. Hancock Building [43], The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
B Centre for Mathematics and Analysis, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.
C Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Jervis Bay Village, Jervis Bay Territory 2540, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: david.lindenmayer@anu.edu.au
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The response of terrestrial mammals and arboreal marsupials to past burning history as well as a year prior to, and then for 4 years after, a major wildfire in 2003 at Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay Territory was quantified. The present study encompassed extensive repeated surveys at a set of 109 replicated sites stratified by vegetation type and fire history. It was found that most species exhibited significant differences in presence and abundance between major vegetation types. Detections of long-nosed bandicoot (Perameles nasuta) increased significantly in all vegetation types surveyed, in both burnt and unburnt areas. Temporal patterns in captures of three species of small mammals (bush rat (Rattus fuscipes), swamp rat (Rattus lutreolus) and brown antechinus (Antechinus stuartii)) showed a trend for lower numbers of captures on burnt sites compared with unburnt sites. Three species of arboreal marsupials, common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), greater glider (Petauroides volans) and common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), were moderately common and all showed marked differences in abundance between vegetation types. Whereas P. peregrinus and P. volans exhibited a temporal decline between 2003 and 2006, T. vulpecula exhibited a general increase from 2003 levels. However, arboreal marsupial responses did not appear to be directly fire related.

Keywords: arboreal marsupials, fire, medium-sized mammals, small terrestrial mammals, south-eastern Australia, vegetation.

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