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The significance of topographic complexity in habitat selection and persistence of a declining marsupial in the Kimberley region of Western Australia


Hohnen, R and Tuft, K and Legge, S and Walters, N and Johanson, L and Carver, S and Radford, IJ and Johnson, CN, The significance of topographic complexity in habitat selection and persistence of a declining marsupial in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, Australian Journal of Zoology, 64, (3) pp. 198-216. ISSN 0004-959X (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 CSIRO

DOI: doi:10.1071/ZO16015


Mammalian species in northern Australia are declining. The resources that many species from this region require to persist in the landscape remain poorly understood. We examined habitat selection and diet of the scaly-tailed possum (Wyulda squamicaudata, hereafter called Wyulda) in the north-west Kimberley, Western Australia, in relation to variation in complexity of rocky habitat, habitat heterogeneity, and recent fire history. We fitted GPS tags to 23 Wyulda between January 2013 and February 2014 and analysed step selection between GPS fixes to describe habitat choice. We assessed diet by microscopic analysis of plant fragments from 47 faecal samples. Individual Wyulda preferentially foraged in locations with high rock complexity and high habitat heterogeneity in a wide variety of habitats, but denned exclusively in complex rock piles. They used savannas of a range of post-fire ages, including recently burnt (1-2 months after fire) and long unburnt (>24 months after fire). They were highly frugivorous with, on average, 77% of plant fragments per scat sample identified as fruit epidermal layers. Overall, rock complexity appears to be an important landscape attribute for Wyulda, as it may provide den sites and protect fire-sensitive landscape features such as fruiting trees and habitat heterogeneity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Bayesian hierarchical logistic regression models, diet, discrete choice models, fire regime, northern mammal decline, small mammal, vegetation structure, Wyulda squamicaudata, marsupial, threatened species
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Wildlife and habitat management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Hohnen, R (Dr Rosemary Hohnen)
UTAS Author:Tuft, K (Dr Katherine Tuft)
UTAS Author:Carver, S (Associate Professor Scott Carver)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:112322
Year Published:2016
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP100100033)
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2016-11-03
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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