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

Why are red foxes absent from some eucalypt forests in eastern New South Wales?

PC Catling and RJ Burt

Wildlife Research 22(4) 535 - 545
Published: 1995


The distribution and abundance of red foxes, other mammalian predators and their ground-dwelling mammalian prey were examined in 29 areas of two major regions of eucalypt forests in eastern New South Wales. In the southern region, red foxes and cats were abundant. Dingoes (andor wild dogs) were in low abundance or absent, spotted-tailed quolls were rare and medium-sized mammals (0.2-6 kg) scarce. In the northern region, red foxes were in low abundance and absent from some areas, such as parts of Chilelundi State Forest, where dingoes, cats, spotted-tailed quolls and medium-sized mammals were abundant. In both regions, small mammals (<200g) were widespread, but they varied greatly in abundance, and large mammals (>6kg) were widespread and generally abundant. Reasons for the absence or low abundance of red foxes in some areas were examined. Factors assessed were as follows: (i) relative abundance of other predators; (ii) abundance of mammalian prey; (iii) absence of European rabbits; (iv) habitat and its structure; (v) proximity to freehold land; and (vi) presence of roads. Distance from freehold land most adequately explained the absence of red foxes from some forests. Red foxes were present in all forests less than 2 km from freehold land and were in highest abundance in forests close (<1km) to freehold land. Severe disturbance such as clearing for grazing or agriculture appears to play some part in the distribution and abundance of the red fox and the demise of the medium-sized grounddwelling mammals.


© CSIRO 1995

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