Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The value of nest boxes in the research and management of Australian hollow-using arboreal marsupials

Georgia L. Beyer A and Ross L. Goldingay A B

A School of Environmental Science and Management, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: ross.goldingay@scu.edu.au

Wildlife Research 33(3) 161-174 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR04109
Submitted: 29 October 2004  Accepted: 29 March 2006   Published: 31 May 2006

Abstract

Nest boxes have been recognised as research and management tools for arboreal marsupials in Australia for over 20 years. We review the published literature with the aim of describing the scope of studies conducted in Australia thus far and providing guidance to future research. We recognise three types of application in research: (1) detection of species, (2) study of a species’ ecology, and (3) investigation of box designs preferred by different species. Several species of arboreal marsupial may be detected more readily in nest boxes than by conventional survey techniques, allowing description of key aspects of their ecology; e.g. feathertail glider (Acrobates pygmaeus), eastern pygmy possum (Cercartetus nanus) and brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa). Identifying the most favoured nest-box design for any species has implications for detection and management uses of nest boxes. More research is needed but preliminary findings suggest that species prefer narrow entrance holes, while height of the nest box above 3 m may be inconsequential. We recognise three types of management application: (1) species introduction, (2) support of populations of endangered species, and (3) strategic placement such as to enhance habitat connectivity. Currently there have been few attempts to use nest boxes to manage arboreal marsupials but further research is needed to realise their potential as a management tool.


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