The use of hollow-bearing trees retained in multi-aged regenerating production forest by the Tasmanian common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula fuliginosus)
Cawthen, L and Munks, S, The use of hollow-bearing trees retained in multi-aged regenerating production forest by the Tasmanian common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula fuliginosus), Wildlife Research, 38, (8) pp. 687-695. ISSN 1035-3712 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Context. Hollow-bearing trees are frequently retained in timber-production areas as part of measures to mitigate against
the impacts of forest harvesting on fauna, yet few studies have investigated the effectiveness of such measures. Such studies
are essential for adaptive forest management.
Aims. The main aim of the present study was to evaluate the use of hollow-bearing trees retained in harvested and
unharvested forest as den sites by the Tasmanian common brushtail possum. In particular, we examined the distribution and
types of hollow-bearing trees used as den sites and whether or not their use in harvested sites was inﬂuenced by time since
Methods. Thirty brushtail possums were radio-tracked to their day-time den sites between March 2007–July 2007 and July
2008–October 2008, at ﬁve dry Eucalyptus forest sites (three regenerating after partial harvest with hollow-bearing trees
retained inside the coupe and two in relatively undisturbed forest) in south-eastern Tasmania, Australia.
Key results. The brushtail possums tracked in the study denned primarily in hollow-bearing trees at both the harvested and
unharvested sites. At sites regenerating 8 and 10 years after harvest, most den site locations were in trees retained outside the
harvest area, in large patches. In contrast, at the site regenerating 17 years after harvest, isolated trees and small patches within
the harvested area were used.
Conclusions. Hollow-bearing trees retained within harvest areas do provide habitat for hollow-dependent fauna such as
the common brushtail possum and enable recolonisation of harvested areas in the medium term. However, in the short term
these trees may not be used and hollow-bearing trees retained in the surrounding landscape are important for providing refuge
as the harvested area regenerates.
Implications. The retention of hollow-bearing trees in harvested areas may be an effective measure at enabling
recolonisation of harvested areas once suitable habitat regenerates, but it is also important to ensure that large patches
of mature forest (containing hollows) are retained in the surrounding landscape to ensure the persistence of hollow-using