Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Ecology of the western bearded dragon (Pogona minor) in unmined forest and forest restored after bauxite mining in south-west Western Australia

Michael D. Craig A F , Mark J. Garkaklis B , Giles E. St J. Hardy A , Andrew H. Grigg C , Carl D. Grant C , Patricia A. Fleming D and Richard J. Hobbs E

A School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

B Swan Regional Services, Department of Environment and Conservation, Kensington, WA 6151, Australia.

C Alcoa World Alumina Australia, Pinjarra, WA 6208, Australia.

D School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

E School of Environmental Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: M.Craig@murdoch.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 55(2) 107-116 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO07002
Submitted: 10 January 2007  Accepted: 3 April 2007   Published: 28 May 2007

Abstract

Forest areas restored after mining typically take decades, or longer, before they resemble the original vegetation community. Understanding how fauna succession varies with plant succession requires detailed knowledge of an animal’s ecology. Knowledge of an animal’s ecology can also be used to predict faunal responses to management manipulations and enable techniques to be developed that accelerate the return of fauna to restored sites. We radio-tracked western bearded dragons (Pogona minor) in a mix of unmined forest sites and sites restored after bauxite mining, in the jarrah forest of south-west Western Australia, to determine critical resources and important microhabitats for dragons. Dragons were generalists – utilising a range of microhabitats – and adaptable, adjusting their microhabitat use depending on availability. Individuals also differed significantly in their microhabitat use and did not appear to have a defined home range. We concluded that the species would rapidly recolonise restored sites and that no modifications to current restoration practices were required to accelerate their return. Prescribed burning of restored areas could negatively affect this species but the effect would be short-term (<2 years). The approach used in this study could be used to develop management prescriptions that accelerate the return of late-successional species to restored sites.


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