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Macropod habitat use and response to management interventions in an agricultural-forest mosaic in north-eastern Tasmania as inferred by scat surveys


Wiggins, NL and Bowman, DMJS, Macropod habitat use and response to management interventions in an agricultural-forest mosaic in north-eastern Tasmania as inferred by scat surveys, Wildlife Research, 38, (2) pp. 103-113. ISSN 1035-3712 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright © 2011 CSIRO

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DOI: doi:10.1071/WR10116


Context. Native pest herbivores often require population numbers to be controlled in landscape settings where agricultural, plantation forests and native forests are juxtaposed. The Tasmanian pademelon Thylogale billardierii and the red-necked wallaby Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus are among the most abundant native pest herbivore species in Tasmania. Aims. We aimed to determine the habitat use of pademelons and wallabies in response to (i) environmental and seasonal variation, and (ii) two different wildlife management interventions (shooting and fencing) in an agricultural–forest mosaic in north-eastern Tasmania. Methods. Macropod abundance before and after shooting and fencing management interventions were estimated by changes in the rate of deposition of faecal pellets (scats per unit area per time interval) on an array of permanent transects that were stratified across three habitat types (agricultural land, plantation forest, and native forest). An experiment was also conducted to determine the endurance of fresh scats in the three habitats. Key results. More than 90% of scats remained undecomposed for over five months, and more than 50% of scats remained undecomposed for over 11 months across the study site. Decomposition rates were significantly influenced by habitat type, specifically, highest in agricultural land and lowest in native forest for both species. Scat deposition rates showed that species abundance was influenced by habitat type and season. Macropod abundance was highest in agricultural land and lowest in native forest. Compared with summer and early autumn, pademelon scat abundance significantly decreased in late autumn and spring on agricultural land but showed no change for plantation forest or native forest. Wallaby scats showed similar seasonal trends for all three habitats, lower in late autumn and spring compared with summer and early autumn. Following each of the management interventions, macropod scat deposition rates decreased predominantly on agricultural land. This effect decreased with increasing distance from intervention loci. Conclusions. We demonstrate that scat monitoring provides a useful survey technique for the assessment of macropod habitat use, and show that macropods select for agricultural habitats. Shooting and fencing interventions reduced the use of agricultural habitats, but this effect was localised. Implications. A whole-landscape perspective is required when assessing the impacts of management interventions on pest populations. Results highlight the formidable challenges in controlling native herbivores in habitat mosaics, given the localised effects of management interventions and the importance of environmental and seasonal factors as drivers of habitat use.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Pollution and contamination
Research Field:Pollution and contamination not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:Wiggins, NL (Dr Natasha Wiggins)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:69897
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2011-05-24
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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