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Decline and likely extinction of a northern Australian native rodent, the Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat Conilurus penicillatus

Citation

Firth, RSC and Brook, BW and Woinarski, JCZ and Fordham, DA, Decline and likely extinction of a northern Australian native rodent, the Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat Conilurus penicillatus, Biological Conservation, 143, (5) pp. 1193-1201. ISSN 0006-3207 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2010.02.027

Abstract

Contemporary fire patterns are considered the most likely cause for regional population decline amongst small to medium mammals in northern tropical Australia. Here we assess the extinction risk faced by a vulnerable north Australian native rodent, the Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat Conilurus penicillatus in relation to fire frequency. This species has recently suffered a significant contraction in range. We provide the first quantitative evidence to demonstrate the immediate threat destructive wildfires and regular annual fire pose to the long-term population persistence of C. penicillatus. We show that late-dry season fires cause a reduction in both juvenile and adult survival probabilities. However, abundance declined at the unburnt as well as a frequently burnt site, suggesting that fire exclusion alone does not guarantee the speciesí long-term persistence. Our model projections indicate that the remaining populations of C. penicillatus on the Northern Territory mainland risk extirpation within the next ten years. Conservation requires decisive management action to ameliorate extensive and destructive fires. A multi-faceted management plan needs to focus on restoring a fire management regime which generates a fine-scale mosaic of burnt and unburnt habitat, and the release of captive bred animals into fenced reserves free of exotic predators.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:capture-mark-recapture, CMR, threatened species, fire management, population viability analysis, PVA, survival
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Population Ecology
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Objective Field:Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
ID Code:116038
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:29
Deposited By:Biological Sciences
Deposited On:2017-04-28
Last Modified:2017-05-01
Downloads:0

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