Characteristics of mammal communities in Tasmanian forests: exploring the influence of forest type and disturbance history
Flynn, EM and Jones, SM and Jones, ME and Jordan, GJ and Munks, SA, Characteristics of mammal communities in Tasmanian forests: exploring the influence of forest type and disturbance history, Wildlife Research, 38, (1) pp. 13-29. ISSN 1035-3712 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Context. With increasing pressure worldwide on forest habitat, it is crucial to understand faunal ecology to effectively
manage and minimise impacts of anthropogenic habitat disturbance.
Aims. This study assessed whether differences in forest type and disturbance history were reﬂected in small to medium
mammal communities found in Tasmania’s production forests.
Methods. Trapping was conducted in spring and summer, and autumn and winter during 2007–08 at four dry Eucalyptus
forest sites (two regenerating after harvest and two in relatively undisturbed forest) in south-east Tasmania, and four wet
Eucalyptus forest sites (two regenerating after harvest and two in relatively undisturbed forest) in north-east Tasmania. All
sites were embedded within a matrix of mature or older aged regenerating forest.
Key results. Thirteen mammal species were recorded across all sites. There was no difference in species diversity or
richness between forest type or disturbance regime, but species composition differed. Total number of individual animals and
captures was inﬂuenced strongly by forest type and disturbance history, with most animals captured in the dry disturbed forest
sites. Abundance of some species (e.g. bettongs and potoroos) was higher in disturbed sites than undisturbed sites. Brushtail
possum numbers (adults and offspring), however, were lower in disturbed sites and populations displayed a male biased adult
sex ratio and lower breeding frequency. Habitat structural complexity and vegetation diversity within core sites, and age
structure of the forest in the surrounding landscape did not vary signiﬁcantly, indicating that broad resource (food and refuge)
availability was equivalent across sites.
Conclusions. In general, the small to medium mammals in this study did not appear to be signiﬁcantly affected by forest
harvesting in the medium term.
Implications. Although past harvesting altered the abundance of some habitat features (e.g. canopy cover, basal area of
trees, and tree hollow availability), we suggest that the availability of such features in the surrounding landscape may mitigate
the potential effects of disturbance on the species for which such habitat features are important.