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

Home range and habitat use of a low-density population of greater gliders, Petauroides volans (Pseudocheiridae: Marsupialia), in a hollow-limiting environment

Geoffrey C. Smith A B , Michael Mathieson A and Luke Hogan A

A Biodiversity Sciences Unit, Environmental Sciences Division, Environmental Protection Agency, 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Qld 4068, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: geoffrey.smith@epa.qld.gov.au

Wildlife Research 34(6) 472-483 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR06063
Submitted: 5 June 2006  Accepted: 21 August 2007   Published: 2 November 2007

Abstract

Greater gliders, Petauroides volans, were radio-tracked within a large tract of forest in the dry inland of southern Queensland. This forest has been commercially logged for timber for more than 100 years. Home-range estimates ranged from 1.4 ha (female) to 19.3 ha (male). Minimum convex polygon (MCP) estimates were larger for males (average, 11.5 ha) than females (average, 3.3 ha) and combined (6.8 ha, sexes pooled) were larger than estimates from other Australian populations. Gliders were located foraging in myrtaceous tree species only, using mostly Eucalyptus moluccana, E. fibrosa and Corymbia citriodora. E. moluccana was used for foraging more frequently than would be expected on the basis of its availability in the forest. E. fibrosa and C. citriodora were used in proportion to their availability in the forest. Gliders were not seen foraging in non-myrtaceous species or myrtaceous trees <20 cm diameter at breast height (dbh), preferring trees in 30–70-cm dbh classes and as ‘mature’ and ‘over-mature’ classified according to growth-stage characteristics. Den tree species included the same species used for foraging as well as dead trees (16% of den trees). E. fibrosa and E. tereticornis were preferred significantly more than expected by their availability in the forest. Non-myrtaceous species were not used as live den trees. Large (dbh >50 cm) and old living trees (in deteriorating and senescent condition: ‘late mature’ and ‘over-mature’ categories) were primarily used as den trees. Individual gliders utilised 4–20 den trees. Females utilised more den trees per unit area of home range (3.8 den trees ha–1, maximum) than males (0.9 den trees ha–1, maximum). Fewer den trees were used per unit area of home range than by gliders at a coastal location with approximately the same latitude. The density of live stems containing hollows suitable as dens is currently lower than 1 tree ha–1 in some parts of the study forest. Gliders were two and half times less likely to be observed during standardised spotlighting surveys in the study area than elsewhere in southern Queensland. It is likely that low availability of den trees is contributing to large home ranges and the apparent low population density observed in this study.


Acknowledgements

Thanks go to district staff, especially Gary Alsemgeest (Forest Ranger in Charge, Barakula State Forest) for logistical support and advice in the study area. Jian Wang identified plant specimens. Kylie Goodall assisted with habitat assessment. Thanks go to Annie Kelly for providing access to diagrams of growth stages shown in Fig. 5. Sama Low Choy gave statistical advice. Teresa Eyre, Tony Norton and John Kehl contributed valuable discussion and personal observations, for which we are grateful. Ross Goldingay, Rodney Kavanagh and three anonymous referees critiqued the manuscript and provided numerous helpful comments. Funding and support for this project was provided through natural resource management agenda of the Queensland Government. The project received ethics approval through the Department of Primary Industries ethics committee (Permit ‘Bribie/27/00’).


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