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Differing effects of productivity on home range size and population density of mammalian carnivores

Citation

Hamer, RP and Andersen, GE and Hradsky, BA and Troy, SN and Gardiner, RZ and Johnson, CN and Jones, ME, Differing effects of productivity on home range size and population density of mammalian carnivores, Wildlife Research, 49, (2) pp. 158-168. ISSN 1035-3712 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2022 CSIRO

DOI: doi:10.1071/WR20134

Abstract

Context: Home-range size and population density characteristics are crucial information in the design of effective wildlife management, whether for conservation or control, but can vary widely among populations of the same species.

Aims: We investigate the influence of site productivity on home-range size and population density for Australian populations of the native, threatened spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) and the alien and highly successful feral cat (Felis catus).

Methods: We use live trapping and fine-scale GPS tracking to determine the home-range size and population density for both species across five sites in Tasmania. Using these data, as well as published estimates for both species from across Australia, we model how these parameters change in response to productivity gradients. We also use the telemetry data to examine the energetic costs of increasing home-range size for both species.

Key results: For both species, decreasing site productivity correlates with lower population density, and in spotted-tailed quolls and female feral cats, it also correlates with larger home-range sizes. However, the relative magnitude of these changes is different. Feral cats show smaller increases in home-range size but larger decreases in population density relative to spotted-tailed quolls. Our results suggest that these differences may be because increases in home-range size are more costly for feral cats, demonstrated by larger increases in nightly movement for the same increase in home-range area.

Conclusions: We suggest that knowledge of both home-range size and population density is needed to accurately determine how species respond to habitat productivity, and inform effective management across their geographic range.

Implications: These results have clear management implications; for example, in our low-rainfall sites, an adult female spotted-tailed quoll requires up to five times the amount of habitat expected on the basis of previous studies, thus dramatically increasing the costs of conservation programs for this threatened native species. Conversely, productivity-driven differences of up to four-fold in feral cat population density would influence the resources required for successful control programs of this invasive species.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:carnivore, home-range variation, population density, productivity gradient, feral cat, invasive species, conservation
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:Hamer, RP (Miss Rowena Hamer)
UTAS Author:Andersen, GE (Dr Georgina Andersen)
UTAS Author:Gardiner, RZ (Ms Riana Gardiner)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
UTAS Author:Jones, ME (Professor Menna Jones)
ID Code:147002
Year Published:2021
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP130100949)
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2021-10-07
Last Modified:2022-05-05
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