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

How hot do nest boxes get in the tropics? A study of nest boxes for the endangered mahogany glider

J. L. Isaac A C , M. Parsons B and B. A. Goodman A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

B Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Savannah Section, Ripple Creek, PO Box 1293, Ingham, Qld 4850, Australia.

C Corresponding author: Email: joanne.isaac@jcu.edu.au

Wildlife Research 35(5) 441-445 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR08016
Submitted: 1 February 2008  Accepted: 13 May 2008   Published: 19 August 2008


As hollow-bearing trees become scarcer due to habitat loss, the use of nest boxes as a management tool for hollow-dependent species is likely to increase. However, nest-box use can be variable among species and habitats, and one possible reason may be that nest boxes offer little protection against extreme temperatures compared with natural hollows; this may be particularly important in the tropics. Here, we measured the microclimate of 16 nest boxes, installed as part of a recovery program for an endangered arboreal marsupial, the mahogany glider, during the summer in tropical north Queensland. We also measured the microclimate of 14 naturally occurring refuges (hollows in standing and fallen trees) at the same study sites. Nest boxes were significantly hotter during the day than were natural refuges (either in fallen or standing live trees) and experienced a greater range of temperatures. The most important factors explaining variation in daytime temperature in boxes was box aspect and the amount of canopy cover directly above the box: boxes that faced north, and those with greater canopy cover, were up to 7°C cooler than those that faced south or had little cover. We discuss our results in relation to the use of nest boxes in management plans for arboreal marsupials in the tropics.


JLI is supported by a James Cook University (JCU) Research Advancement Grant and this study was funded by a JCU New Staff Grant. Thanks to Yvette and Steve Williams for help, advice and support. Rob Gegg and Sue Riley provided technical support and Health & Safety advice. The study was supported by the Queensland Glider Network and boxes were made and provided by Stacey and Alan Franks of Hollow Log Homes; we thank them for their hard work in designing, making and promoting sustainable nest boxes for the conservation of Australian wildlife. We also thank Daryl and Geoff Dickson for advice and the location of a known glider den, and for their work rehabilitating injured mahogany gliders and other native mammals. The comments and suggestions of R. Goldingay and two anonymous referees greatly improved earlier versions of the manuscript.


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