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The status of non-volant mammals along a rainfall gradient in the south-west Kimberley, Western Australia


Start, AN and Burbidge, AA and McDowell, MC and McKenzie, NL, The status of non-volant mammals along a rainfall gradient in the south-west Kimberley, Western Australia, Australian Mammalogy, 34, (1) pp. 36-48. ISSN 0310-0049 (2012) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 Australian Mammal Society

DOI: doi:10.1071/AM10026


To assess the current status of mammals in relation to mean annual rainfall and to improve knowledge of the original mammalian assemblages in tropical Western Australia, extant terrestrial mammals and subfossil mammalian remains were sought along a rainfall gradient in two parallel ranges in the Kimberley, Western Australia. As expected, extant mammal species richness decreased with decreasing rainfall. Data from other studies in higher-rainfall areas complemented this conclusion and a parallel decline in trap success implied an overall decline in abundance, although numbers of two rodents (Rattus tunneyi and Zyzomys argurus) were highly variable. Small rodents were rare. Subfossil deposits were biased by accumulation processes, with most attributable to tytonid owls. They largely consisted of rodent and, to a lesser extent, small dasyurid bones and there was a high level of consistency in the proportional composition of many common species across the rainfall gradient. Most deposits appear to predate the introduction of stock in the 1880s and some may be much older. All species persist in the study area except two Notomys spp. and three Pseudomys spp. Both the Notomys and one Pseudomys are apparently undescribed, extinct species. However, there were marked ratio differences between subfossil and modern assemblages. Although specimens of species larger than those taken by tytonid owls were scarce, their occurrences were broadly consistent with the modern understanding of distributions.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:barn owl, extant, subfossil, survey
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:McDowell, MC (Dr Matthew McDowell)
ID Code:132400
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:33
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2019-05-06
Last Modified:2019-08-20

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