Habitat loss and degradation have contributed significantly to the decline of many species worldwide. To address this loss, we first require a comprehensive understanding of habitat requirements and resource-use patterns of the species under threat.
In our new paper, we aimed to quantify variation in the habitat of a the threatened brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa tapoatafa), by measuring several physical characteristics of trees and ground cover. We surveyed phascogales in Central Victoria over a 13-year period from 2000 to 2012, and measured habitat variables characterising tree communities, ground cover and coarse woody debris.
The highest overall animal abundance was at sites characterised by red stringybark, red box, grey box and broad-leaved and narrow-leaved peppermints. At these sites, red stringybark and grey box trees were of small diameter and tended to have small hollows.
Our study has provided new information concerning spatial patterns of phascogale abundance and resource use within a forested area that has been subjected to multiple disturbances. Currently, the composition and age structure of tree communities and ground habitats are a response to severe disturbance due to past mining and harvesting activities.
Successful conservation of this threatened species could be enhanced through active management of this forest to maintain the ongoing supply of nesting hollows and foraging resources.
Mansfield, C., Arnold, A., Bell, T.L. & York, A. (in press). Habitat characteristics and resource use of a threatened arboreal marsupial in a degraded landscape: the brush-tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa tapoatafa) in central Victoria, Australia. Wildlife Research. DOI
Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb