The multibillion dollar, illegal annual trade of endangered wildlife continues, in part, because poachers are not caught and convicted. We evaluated the health of confiscated tortoises in a manner that met important forensic criteria and provided a convincing body of evidence to convict the poachers. This conviction illustrates how even basic biological information, when collected and analysed under forensic standards, can provide powerful evidence to help eradicate poaching. Photograph by Margaretha D. Hofmeyr.
Volume 40 Number 4 2013
WR12188Techniques for optimising long-term, large-scale capture–mark–resighting raptor studies: climb hard, band fast
Achieving adequate sample sizes of marked animals in a cost-effective manner is critically important to the success and longevity of long-term studies. The efficacy of capture–mark–release studies for seasonal breeding birds could be improved by accurately predicting the window of opportunity for successful banding. We demonstrate that the use of VID bands and a method of accurately predicting nesting dates provide significant efficiency improvements in establishing long-term monitoring of seasonal breeding birds. Photograph by Victor G. Hurley.
WR12117Field testing of single-administration porcine zona pellucida contraceptive vaccines in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Conflicts with urban and suburban wildlife have spurred research to develop and administer contraceptives to free-roaming wildlife. Because darting deer for capture or contraceptive treatment becomes progressively more difficult with each attempt, we tested several contraceptive vaccines for deer that proved to be effective for 2 years or more following a single treatment. Reducing the need to repeat treatments improves prospects for managing urban and suburban deer with contraceptives. Photograph by Allen Rutberg.
Wildlife flee humans as they would predators. Many studies used multiple observers to estimate alert (vigilance) and flight-initiation (escape) distances of wildlife to understand escape behaviour and management of wildlife disturbance. The present study shows that observers estimate flight-initiation distances in a comparable fashion, but that estimates of alert distance differ between observers. Photograph by Mike Weston.
WR13038Cache sites preferred by small rodents facilitate cache survival in a subtropical primary forest, central China
Rodents play an important role in plant regeneration by scatter-hoarding seeds at safe sites of plants. Here, we tracked rodent cached seeds of Himalayan hazelnut (Corylus ferox) in a primary forest and found rodent-preferred cache sites facilitate seed survival, which may translate into a higher tendency for seeds to germinate and establish. Thus, in some areas, careful management and conservation of rodent-preferred hoarding habitats may benefit seed dispersal and establishment of plants. Photograph by Sun Shoujia.
WR12181Regional variation in trophic ecology of adult female Australian sea lions inferred from stable isotopes in whiskers
There is currently no available published data on the foraging ecology of Australian sea lions at their northern (warm) range extent in Western Australia. We use stable isotope analysis to show fine-scale trophic structure within and between three of these colonies. In all cases trophic levels were lower than at colonies of similar latitude in South Australia. These data highlight a need for further investigation of the factors driving local variability in the diet of Australian sea lions. Photograph by Heidi Ahonen.
WR12215Impact of a toxic invasive species on freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni) populations in upstream escarpments
Toxins in cane toads are capable of killing predators such as freshwater crocodiles, but the impact of toads on wild crocodile populations has been variable. We wanted to test the impact of cane toads on naturally stunted freshwater crocodiles living in an upstream escarpment habitat, populations that survive on limited natural resources. We found that toads caused large declines in these escarpment crocodile populations, suggesting that unique populations that adapted to suboptimal conditions may be highly susceptible to cane toad disturbance. Photograph by Adam R. C. Britton.
WR12222Mangroves as maternity roosts for a colony of the rare east-coast free-tailed bat (Mormopterus norfolkensis) in south-eastern Australia
Maternity roosts of insectivorous bats (where females raise young) are critical to the conservation of threatened species as roost quality can influence reproductive success. While mangrove forests have been largely overlooked as bat habitat, we found that they were locally unique and important to lactating female Mormopterus norfolkensis. Bats roosted in small numbers and switched roosts often, but the colony as a whole was faithful to two patches that had a high proportion of hollow-bearing trees. Photograph by Matthew Jones.
An introduced population of sika deer in Maryland has been growing exponentially; however, a paucity of information exists regarding this population. This paper reports average home range sizes, dispersal activities and several home range classifications of male sika deer. These results can be applicable to many areas where sika deer have been introduced as popular game species and are now competing with native wildlife. Photograph by Sean Dougherty.
WR12191Market value of restocking and landscape in red-legged partridge hunting: a study based on advertisements
Releases of farm-reared partridges are increasingly frequent, despite their effects on wild stocks and the perceived low quality of released partridges by hunters. In the present study, landscape and releases had no effect on the market price of partridge hunts; this was possibly favoured by the difficulty in reliably distinguishing between estates with wild/farm-reared partridges while buying a hunt. Current scientific literature suggests that releases should be limited. Our work shows that these days, the market alone is not helping to reduce them. Photograph by Hans Hut.