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

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 and 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

Wildlife Research 35(5) 395-408 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR07156
Submitted: 28 September 2007  Accepted: 11 April 2008   Published: 19 August 2008


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.

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


This project is part of a major study in Booderee National Park. It is funded by the Australian Research Council, the Department of Environment and Water Resources and the Department of Defence. The strong support of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community is also most gratefully acknowledged and we are privileged to work on land that is co-managed by them. Scott Surridge, Peter Cochrane and Con Boekel have been important supporters of this project since its inception. Counts of terrestrial mammals were completed through the generous assistance of Earthwatch Institute volunteers and grants from that organisation. Additional assistance with field work was provided by Monica Ruibal, Nicki Munro and Rachel Muntz. Comments by two anonymous referees greatly improved earlier versions of this paper.


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Appendix 1.  Covariates measured at: (A) the transect level, (B) 20 × 20-m plot level, (C) 1 × 1-m sub-plot level and (D) in 200 m and 500 m polygons around each site (= landscape context variables)
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