The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

An optimised rapid detection technique for simultaneously monitoring activity of rabbits, cats, foxes and dingoes in the rangelands

John Read A C D and Steve Eldridge B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Arid Recovery, PO Box 150, Olympic Dam, SA 5725, Australia.

B Department of Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts, PO Box 1120, Alice Springs, NT, Australia.

C Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: john.read@adelaide.edu.au

The Rangeland Journal 32(4) 389-394 https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ09018
Submitted: 12 March 2009  Accepted: 5 August 2010   Published: 26 November 2010

Abstract

A single procedure that land managers can readily use to simultaneously monitor populations of multiple pest animal species would enhance capacity to effectively manage environmental impacts in the Australian rangelands. Such a procedure should be efficient and provide a standard for data collection, enabling meaningful evaluation of changes through time. This study compared the efficiency of two indices, namely spotlight counts and a variety of passive activity indices, for detecting rabbit, cat, fox and dingo activity. Spotlight counts were more practical for estimating rabbit activity but were poor indicators of cat, fox or dingo activity. Records of animal tracks on discrete 200 m dirt road segments with favourable substrate and separated by at least 2 km are considered optimal for collectively monitoring relative changes through time in rabbit, cat, fox and dingo activity.

Additional keywords: Australia, feral animals, management, track counts.


Acknowledgements

Anangu Pitjantjatjara landowners, WMC Resources, Dominion Mining, Ross and Sally Morton, Thomas and Marie McKay, John and Ann Staines and Robbie and Jo Bloomfield are thanked for granting permission to conduct surveys on their land. Katherine Moseby, Kelli-Jo Kovac, Joe Benshemish, Earthwatch volunteers, Arid Recovery staff, Glenn Edwards, Bernie Shakeshaft, Theresa Nano, Matt Presley, Alec Kruger, Wayne Stewart, Justin Dann, Luke Guisieppe, Karina Lester and Hugh Woodbury assisted with data collection and Katherine Moseby assisted with the preparation of this manuscript. This research was supported by the Bureau of Rural Sciences (through the National Feral Animal Control Program), the Parks and Wildlife Service of the Northern Territory and WMC Resources.


References


Allen L. R., Sparkes E. C. (2001) The effect of dingo control on sheep and beef cattle in Queensland. Journal of Applied Ecology 38, 76–87.
CrossRef |

Allen L. R., Engeman R., Krupa H. (1996) Evaluation of three relative abundance indices for assessing dingo populations. Wildlife Research 23, 197–206.
CrossRef |

Ballinger A., Morgan D. G. (2002) Validating two methods for monitoring population size of the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Wildlife Research 29, 431–437.
CrossRef |

Bowen Z. E., Read J. L. (1998) Factors influencing breeding and survivorship of rabbits in the Roxby Downs region. Wildlife Research 25, 655–662.
CrossRef |

Claridge A. W., Hunt R. (2008) Evaluating the role of the Dingo as a trophic regulator: additional practical suggestions. Ecological Management & Restoration 9, 116–119.
CrossRef |

Cooke B. D. (1991) Rabbits – indefensible on any grounds. Search 22, 193–194.

Edwards G. P., de Preu N. D., Shakescraft B. J., Crealy I. V. (2000) An evaluation of two methods of assessing feral cat and dingo abundance in central Australia. Wildlife Research 27, 143–149.
CrossRef |

Edwards G. P., de Preu N. D., Shakeshaft B. J., Crealy I. V., Paltridge R. M. (2001) Home range and movements of male feral cats (Felis catus) in a semiarid woodland environment in central Australia. Austral Ecology 26, 93–101.
CrossRef |

Edwards G. P., Dobbie W., Berman D. McK. (2002) Population trends in European rabbits and other wildlife of central Australia in the wake of rabbit haemorrhagic disease. Wildlife Research 29, 557–565.
CrossRef |

Edwards G. P., Pople A. R., Saalfeld K., Caley P. (2004) Introduced mammals in Australian rangelands: future threats and the role of monitoring programmes in management strategies. Austral Ecology 29, 40–50.
CrossRef |

Eldridge S. R. , and Bryan R. (1995). Dingo Questionnaire Survey, June–November 1995. Unpublished Report to the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Alice Springs.

Engeman R. M., Allen L. (2000) Overview of a passive tracking index for monitoring wild canids and associated species. Integrated Pest Management Reviews 5, 197–203.
CrossRef |

Engeman R. M., Pipas M. J., Gruver K. S., Allen L. (2000) Monitoring coyote population changes with a passive activity index. Wildlife Research 27, 553–557.
CrossRef |

Environment Australia (1999). ‘Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Rabbits.’ (Department of the Environment and Heritage – Biodiversity Group: Canberra.)

Fleming P. , Corbett L. , Harden R. , and Thomson P. (2001). ‘Managing the Impacts of Dingoes and Other Wild Dogs.’ (Bureau of Rural Sciences: Canberra.)

Glen A. S., Dickman C. R., Soule M. E., Mackey B. G. (2007) Evaluating the role of the dingo as a trophic regulator in Australian ecosystems. Austral Ecology 32, 492–501.
CrossRef |

Holden C., Mutze G. (2002) Impact of rabbit haemorrhagic disease on introduced predators in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Wildlife Research 29, 615–626.
CrossRef |

Jarman P. (1986). The red fox – an exotic large predator. In: ‘The Ecology of Exotic Animals and Plants: Some Australian Case Histories’. (Ed. R. L. Kitching.) pp. 43–61. (Wiley: Brisbane.)

Jones E., Coman B. J. (1982) Ecology of the feral cat, Felis catus (L.), in south-eastern Australia. III. Home ranges and population ecology in semi-arid north-western Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 9, 409–420.
CrossRef |

Kinnear J. E., Onus M. L., Bromilow R. N. (1988) Fox control and rock-wallaby population dynamics. Australian Wildlife Research 15, 435–450.
CrossRef |

le Mar K., Southwell C., McArthur C. (2001) Evaluation of line transect sampling to estimate densities of macropods in open and closed habitats. Wildlife Research 28, 9–16.
CrossRef |

Letnic M., Tamayo B., Dickman C. R. (2005) The responses of mammals to La Nina (El Nino Southern Oscillation)-associated rainfall, predation, and wildfire in central Australia. Journal of Mammalogy 86, 689–703.
CrossRef |

Lindenmayer D. B., Cunningham R. B., Donnelly C. F., Incoll R. D., Pope M. L., Tribolet C. R., Viggers K. L., Welsh A. H. (2001) How effective is spotlighting for detecting the greater glider (Petauroides volans)? Wildlife Research 28, 105–109.
CrossRef |

MacKenzie D. I. , Nichols J. D. , Royle J. D. , Pollock K. H. , Bailey L. L. , and Hines J. E. (2006). ‘Occupancy Estimation and Modelling. Inferring Patterns and Dynamics of Species Occurrence.’ (Elsevier, Academic Press: Burlington.)

Mahon P. S., Banks P. B., Dickman C. R. (1998) Population indices for wild carnivores: a critical study in sand-dune habitat, south-western Queensland. Wildlife Research 25, 11–22.
CrossRef |

Molsher R., Newsome A., Dickman C. (1999) Feeding ecology and population dynamics of the feral cat (Felis catus) in relation to the availability of prey in central-eastern New South Wales. Wildlife Research 26, 593–607.
CrossRef |

Morton S. R. (1990) The impact of European settlement on the vertebrate animals of arid Australia: a conceptual model. Proceedings of the Ecological Society of Australia 16, 201–213.

Moseby K. E., Stott J., Crisp H. (2009a) Improving the effectiveness of poison baiting for the feral cat and European fox in northern South Australia: the influence of movement, habitat use and activity. Wildlife Research 36, 1–14.
CrossRef |


Moseby K. , Nano T. , and Southgate R. (2009 b). ‘Tales in the Sand: A Guide to Identifying Australian Arid Zone Fauna using Spoor and Other Signs.’ (Ecological Horizons: Kimba.)

Norbury G., McGlinchy A. (1996) The impact of rabbit control on predator sightings in the semi-arid high country of the South Island, New Zealand. Wildlife Research 23, 93–97.
CrossRef |

Ralls K., Eberhardt L. L. (1997) Assessment of abundance of San Joaquin kit foxes by spotlight surveys. Journal of Mammalogy 78, 65–73.
CrossRef |

Read J., Bowen Z. (2001) Population dynamics, diet and aspects of the biology of feral cats and foxes in arid South Australia. Wildlife Research 28, 195–203.
CrossRef |

Schauster E. R., Gese E. M., Kitchen A. M. (2002) An evaluation of survey methods for monitoring swift fox abundance. Wildlife Society Bulletin 30, 464–477.

Sharp A., Holmes K., Norton M., Marks A. (2001a) Observations on the effects of rabbit calicivirus disease on low and medium density rabbit populations in western New South Wales. The Rangeland Journal 23, 194–203.
CrossRef |

Sharp A., Norton M., Marks A., Holmes K. (2001b) An evaluation of two indices of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) abundance in an arid environment. Wildlife Research 28, 419–424.
CrossRef |

Short J., Turner B. (1993) The distribution and abundance of the burrowing bettong (Marsupialia: Macropoidea). Wildlife Research 20, 525–534.
CrossRef |

Short J., Turner B., Risbey D. A., Carnamah R. (1997) Control of feral cats for nature conservation. II. Population reduction by poisoning. Wildlife Research 24, 703–714.
CrossRef |

Thomson P. C. (1984) Dingoes and sheep in pastoral areas. Journal of Agriculture Western Australia 25, 27–31.

Twigg L. E., Lowe T. J., Gray G. S., Martin G. R., Wheeler A. G., Barker W. (1998) Spotlight counts, site fidelity and migration of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Wildlife Research 25, 113–122.
CrossRef |

Waser P. M. (1980) Small nocturnal carnivores: ecological studies in the Serengeti. African Journal of Ecology 18, 167–185.
CrossRef |

Weber J. M., Aubury S., Lachat N., Meia J. S., Mermod C., Paratte A. (1991) Fluctuations and behaviour of foxes determined by nightlighting. Preliminary results. Acta Theriologica 36, 285–291.

Wilson G. J., Delahay R. J. (2001) A review of methods to estimate the abundance of terrestrial carnivores using field signs and observation. Wildlife Research 28, 151–164.
CrossRef |








Export Citation Cited By (16)