Insights into the pre-European mammalian fauna of the southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Liddle, NR and McDowell, MC and Prideaux, GJ, Insights into the pre-European mammalian fauna of the southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia, Australian Mammalogy, 40, (2) pp. 262-268. ISSN 0310-0049 (2018) [Refereed Article]
Many Australian mammal species have suffered significant declines since European colonisation. During the first century of settlement, information on species distribution was rarely recorded. However, fossil accumulations can assist the reconstruction of historical distributions. We examine a fossil vertebrate assemblage from Mairís Cave, one of few known from the southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia. The Mairís Cave assemblage was dominated by mammals but also included birds and reptiles. Of the 18 mammals recovered, two have not previously been recorded from the southern Flinders Ranges, at least one is extinct and seven are recognised as threatened nationally. Characteristics of the assemblage suggest that it was accumulated by a Tyto owl species. Remains of Tyto delicatula and a larger unidentified owl were recovered from the assemblage. Most mammals identified from the assemblage presently occupy Australiaís semiarid zone, but a single specimen of the broad-toothed rat (Mastacomys fuscus), which primarily occurs in high-moisture, low-temperature environments was also recovered. This suggests either that the southern Flinders Ranges once experienced higher past precipitation, or that M. fuscus can tolerate a broader climatic range than its current distribution suggests. Our study contributes new knowledge on the biogeography and ecology of several mammal species, data useful for helping to refine restoration targets.