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The behavioural ecology and population dynamics of a cryptic groundâdwelling mammal in an urban Australian landscape
- FITZGIBBON, SEAN I., WILSON, ROBBIE S., GOLDIZEN, ANNE W.
- Austral ecology 2011 v.36 no.6 pp. 722-732
- Isoodon, foraging, grasses, grasslands, habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, habitats, landscapes, mammals, monitoring, population density, population dynamics, radio, radio telemetry, reproductive performance, shrublands, urbanization, weeds, wildlife
- Urbanization results in widespread habitat loss and fragmentation and generally has a negative impact upon native wildlife, in particular groundâdwelling mammals. The northern brown bandicoot (Isoodon macrourus; Marsupialia: Peramelidae) is one of relatively few native Australian groundâdwelling mammals that is able to survive within urbanized landscapes. As a consequence of extensive clearing and urban development within the city of Brisbane, bandicoots are now restricted to the mostly small (<10âha) bushland fragments scattered across the city landscape. Our study examined the behavioural ecology of northern brown bandicoots within habitat fragments located on a major creekâline, using markârecapture population monitoring and radio telemetry. Bandicoots at monitored sites were found to occur at high densities (typically one individualâhaâ1), although oneâthird of the populations were transient. Radio tracking revealed that bandicoots had relatively small home ranges (mean 1.5âÂ±â0.2âha) comprised largely of bushland/grassland with dense, often weedâinfested ground cover. Bandicoots sheltered by day in these densely covered areas and also spent most time foraging there at night, although they occasionally ventured small distances to forage in adjacent maintained parklands and residential lawns. We suggest that introduced tall grasses and other weeds contribute to high habitat quality within riparian habitat fragments and facilitate the persistence of high density populations, comprised of individuals with small home ranges. The generalized dietary and habitat requirements of northern brown bandicoots, as well as a high reproductive output, undoubtedly facilitate the survival of the species in urban habitat fragments. Further research is required on other native mammal species in urbanized landscapes to gain a greater understanding of how best to conserve wildlife in these heavily modified environments.