Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Wildlife Research

Wildlife Research

Wildlife Research covers all major aspects of the ecology, management and conservation of wild animals in natural and modified habitats. Read more about the journalMore

Editors: Andrea Taylor and Piran White


Current Issue

Wildlife Research

Volume 44 Number 2 2017

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Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), which is used to control wild rabbits population in Australasia, is least effective in cooler regions where non-pathogenic calicivirus RCV-A1 also circulates. Nevertheless, RHDV is highly effective on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island where RCV-A1 is apparently absent, ruling out climate as the limiting factor. The use of RHDV reduces risks of seabirds scavenging poisoned rabbits and facilitates pest eradication. Photograph by Keith Springer.

WR16173Assessment of animal welfare for helicopter shooting of feral horses

Jordan O. Hampton, Glenn P. Edwards, Brendan D. Cowled, David M. Forsyth, Timothy H. Hyndman, Andrew L. Perry, Corissa J. Miller, Peter J. Adams and Teresa Collins
pp. 97-105
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The animal welfare implications of applying helicopter shooting to feral horses are contentious. Observation of feral horse helicopter shooting operations in central Australia allowed animal welfare outcomes to be quantified and the influence of explanatory variables to be examined. Welfare outcomes from helicopter shooting of feral horses were comparable with other species that have been studied and could be improved through management of shooters.

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Intraspecific differences in behaviour can affect censuses and bias estimates. By analysing a long-term dataset collected during 17 red deer ruts, we found that temporal variations in activity patterns among different age and sex categories can lead to divergent results in different survey methods. Both the timing and choice of census methods are fundamental and need to be linked to behavioural variations.

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Australia’s mammal species have suffered high and ongoing rates of decline and extinction. We report here on three studies from widely separated sites, mostly in conservation reserves, that show continuing marked decline in many mammal species. Although there are some notable differences in the results, there is also some consistency across the studies in the types of mammal species that are declining the most and in the likely causes of decline. Photograph by Marika Maxwell, Department of Parks and Wildlife.

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The present study examines whether sea turtle hatchlings that have entered the sea can be attracted ashore again by shore-based light pollution, subsequently decreasing sea turtle recruitment. Sea turtle hatchlings were released to the sea and some returned to shore at an adjacent lightly polluted beach. Shore-based light pollution adjacent to sea turtle nesting beaches is a problem because it distracts sea turtle hatchlings while on shore and in the sea on moonless nights. Photograph by N. Holmes.

WR16108Spatial patterns of road mortality of medium–large mammals in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

Fernando Ascensão, Arnaud L. J. Desbiez, Emília P. Medici and Alex Bager
pp. 135-146
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Understanding roadkill patterns and their main drivers is crucial to improving safe co-existence between humans and animals. We aimed to assess the influence of land cover in road killings and evaluate the benefits of mitigating hotspot sections only. Casualties occurred mainly in areas with more abundant and diverse communities, supporting that mitigation should target sections crossing areas of higher habitat quality and connectivity. Photo credit: Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative, IPÊ.

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In field surveys, knowing occupancy and abundance of wildlife species is often required. Herein, the detection rate of tadpoles in the field was experimentally determined and the results showed that it varied according to survey time and tadpole species and that it negatively correlated to the tadpole density. Real detection rate will allow calculating detection probability and help estimating the occupancy and abundance of the target species. Photograph by N. Iwai.

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Habitat loss and degradation has contributed significantly to the decline of many species worldwide. This study used a long-term dataset to better understand the habitat requirements and foraging resources required by a threatened arboreal marsupial, the brush-tailed phascogale. These results will help land managers restore degraded forests to better conserve this species. Photograph by Jerry Alexander.

WR16204Development of known-fate survival monitoring techniques for juvenile wild pigs (Sus scrofa)

David A. Keiter, John C. Kilgo, Mark A. Vukovich, Fred L. Cunningham and James C. Beasley
pp. 165-173
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Knowing rates at which juvenile wild pigs (piglets) survive will inform research and management of this invasive species. We assessed the use of vaginal implant transmitters (VITs) in pregnant wild pigs to locate newborn piglets and evaluated the use of 5 types of transmitters to monitor juvenile survival rates. We found that VITs could be used effectively to locate newborn piglets and that large ear-tag and surgically implanted transmitters could be used to monitor piglet survival.

WR16123Contraceptive efficacy of priming and boosting doses of controlled-release PZP in wild horses

Allen Rutberg, Kayla Grams, John W. Turner Jr and Heidi Hopkins
pp. 174-181

For decades, long-acting fertility control vaccines have been studied as a means to slow the growth of wild horse and burro herds. In this field study, we found that injecting wild horses with a controlled-release porcine zona pellucida contraceptive vaccine extends the effectiveness of a single-booster vaccination to at least three years. Wild horse management will be improved by incorporating booster treatments into planning.

Online Early

The peer-reviewed and edited version of record published online before inclusion in an issue

Published online 04 July 2017

WR16133Drivers of change in the relative abundance of dugongs in New Caledonia

C. Cleguer, C. Garrigue, M. M. P. B. Fuentes, Y. Everingham, R. Hagihara, M. Hamann, C. Payri and H. Marsh
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Sound understanding of trends in wildlife populations is required for assessing their status and for effective conservation and management. The aim of this study was to update information on the current size of the isolated dugong population of New Caledonia. While the latest estimates show a stabilisation of the dugong population at the low thousand, the study highlights the importance of replicating baseline surveys to enable robust interpretation of temporal variation in population size estimates.

Published online 28 June 2017

WR17018The invisible harm: land clearing is an issue of animal welfare

Hugh C. Finn and Nahiid S. Stephens
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Despite evidence of the harm that land clearing causes to individual animals, such harm is either ignored or considered only indirectly in environmental decision-making. The clearing of native vegetation kills many of the animals present and causes injuries and other conditions that are physically painful and psychologically stressful. Environmental decision-makers should identify and evaluate the harm that proposed clearing actions will cause.

Published online 26 June 2017

WR16215Investigating brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) home-range size determinants in a New Zealand native forest

K. S. Richardson, C. Rouco, C. Jewell, N. P. French, B. M. Buddle and D. M. Tompkins
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After more than 50 years of studying brushtail possums in Australia and New Zealand, we still do not have a clear understanding of their home-range dynamics. By using a large trapping dataset in the Orongorongo Valley, we found that in addition to density, age and sex are consistent determinants of possum home-range size. This finding suggests that males, owing to their behaviour, may be the primary drivers of TB transmission in possum wild population.

Published online 22 June 2017

WR16194Identifying peaks in bat activity: a new application of SaTScan’s space–time scan statistic

Amanda M. Adams and M. Brock Fenton
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It is vital to understand what times and places are important to animals, but determining these can be challenging to research and conservation efforts. We show that the SaTScan is effective for quickly identifying peaks in bat activity. SaTScan is a valuable tool for understanding and studying bat activity and has potential for many more uses in ecology.

Published online 16 June 2017

WR17028Providing perches for predatory and aggressive birds appears to reduce the negative impact of frugivorous birds in vineyards

Rebecca K. Peisley, Manu E. Saunders and Gary W. Luck
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Bird activity in vineyards can reduce or enhance crop yields. We examined the effectiveness of providing artificial perches to encourage predatory birds into vineyards to scare grape-eating species. Grapevines near perches received >50% less damage than control sites, possibly owing to the presence of Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen). Therefore, perches are a potentially useful approach to reducing damage to grape crops. Photograph by Rebecca K. Peisley.

Published online 07 June 2017

WR16164Identifying key denning habitat to conserve brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Croatia

A. Whiteman, G. Passoni, J. M. Rowcliffe, D. Ugarkovi?, J. Kusak, S. Relji? and D. Huber
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Understanding brown bear denning preferences can be a valuable tool to increase the effectiveness of conservation interventions. Our study found that both environmental and anthropogenic factors predict den habitat suitability in Croatia. The identification of particularly valuable variables can direct management efforts aimed at preserving sensitive habitat.

Published online 01 June 2017

WR16202Resource partitioning among five sympatric species of freshwater turtles from the wet–dry tropics of northern Australia

Michael A. Welsh, J. Sean Doody and Arthur Georges
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There have been few community studies of Australian freshwater turtles. The present study examined the diet and microhabitat use of 5 species of freshwater turtles from the Daly River, Northern Territory. Dietary shift with age was observed for most turtle species, and between species there was differentiation of diet and microhabitat use. The study also showed that in the dry-season, freshwater turtles in a perennial tropical river like the Daly River rely on aquatic vegetation and molluscs. Photograph: Megacephalic Emydura victoriae from the Daly River, by Arthur Georges.

Published online 31 May 2017

WR16181Testing the potential for supplementary water to support the recovery and reintroduction of the black-footed rock-wallaby

Rebecca West, Matthew J. Ward, Wendy K. Foster and David A. Taggart
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Providing resources to threatened species could be a useful conservation tool. We examined how the black-footed rock-wallaby used supplementary water points and found that drinking rates were significantly higher during dry winter months but water points did not increase predator activity. Water supplementation may assist arid zone populations to survive droughts, increase population recruitment or increase survival in reintroductions.

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Commercial pine plantations in the Mpumalanga region of South Africa are experiencing escalating levels of baboon-caused damage, and no effective control measures have been found to date. The ecological-risk model presented herein indicates that susceptibility to baboon damage is determined by pine stand characteristics and unrelated to the surrounding environment. The present study allows for the quantification of the potential risk posed by baboon damage towards the development of an effective integrated management strategy. Photograph by M. E. Light.

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Bird surveys are widely used to estimate diversity – but how do current methods compare with best-practice recommendations? This systematic review of 225 studies over 12 years reveals that most studies ignore detectability and use short-duration, fixed-effort sampling without justification. To increase reliability, both collectors and consumers of bird survey data should consider richness estimates in terms of sample completeness.

Published online 25 May 2017

WR16025Visual lures increase camera-trap detection of the southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii)

Wren R. McLean, Ross L. Goldingay and David A. Westcott
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Cryptic and highly mobile species such as the endangered southern cassowary require the development of specific monitoring methods for conducting population surveys. This study revealed that visual lures used with camera traps increased the number of cassowaries detected, reduced camera latency times and increased data available to identify individuals. This is a practical and cost-efficient technique for the rapid detection of cassowaries at a site and lends itself to studies of population structure, size and trends. Photograph by W. McLean.

Published online 25 May 2017

WR16228Animal detections vary among commonly used camera trap models

Michael M. Driessen, Peter J. Jarman, Shannon Troy and Sophia Callander
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Camera traps are widely used in wildlife surveys but assessing their limitations is important. We compared the efficacy of four camera models to detect mammals and birds and found that detections varied between models and that all camera models failed to detect a substantial proportion of animal visits. Variation in camera performance needs to be taken into consideration when designing or comparing camera surveys, especially if multiple models are used.

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Given that ecological processes are scale-dependent, research on species’ habitat associations can be strengthened if it involves multi-scale approaches. This study aimed to determine the landscape- and site-scale habitat associations of Petrogale lateralis (MacDonnell Ranges race). The findings revealed that all four spatial scales yielded novel information. Furthermore, the results might have conservation implications for this threatened race and could provide a model for other studies of faunal habitat associations.

Published online 10 May 2017

WR16102An evaluation of small-mammal use of constructed wildlife crossings in ski resorts

Mellesa Schroder and Chloe F. Sato
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In ski resorts to facilitate small animal movement across modified ski slopes and under roadways boulder filled and culvert wildlife crossings are constructed to link remnant habitat. This study monitored crossings to determine small mammal use. Regardless of size or type all crossings were used with the broad-toothed rat (Mastacomys fuscus) detected more frequently in crossings of greater length. Our results recommend the continued use of boulder-filled crossings in particular wide areas of ski-slope disturbance.

Published online 08 May 2017

WR16172Differences in microhabitat selection patterns between a remnant and constructed landscape following management intervention

Jose W. Valdez, Kaya Klop-Toker, Michelle P. Stockwell, Loren Fardell, Simon Clulow, John Clulow and Michael J. Mahony
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Successful conservation outcomes require understanding how species use their habitat and respond to management interventions. We compared differences in microhabitat use by an endangered amphibian between a reintroduced population in a constructed system and a naturally occurring population. The results indicated that microhabitat use differed between the two sites that will be used to inform future management initiatives and better use of resources. Photograph by Jose W. Valdez.

Published online 01 May 2017

WR16061One Health messaging about bats and rabies: how framing of risks, benefits and attributions can support public health and wildlife conservation goals

Hang Lu, Katherine A. McComas, Danielle E. Buttke, Sungjong Roh, Margaret A. Wild and Daniel J. Decker
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Because of seemingly unavoidable conflicts between public health and conservation goals, this study explored how One Health messaging may motivate intentions to prevent exposure to rabies from bats while promoting bat conservation. We found that mentioning the benefits of bats in a bat-blame message improved beliefs about bats. The findings provide insights for current communication about bats and rabies.

Published online 01 May 2017

WR16165Demographic evaluation of translocating the threatened northern quoll to two Australian islands

Anthony D. Griffiths, Brooke Rankmore, Kym Brennan and John C. Z. Woinarski
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The establishment of a self-sustaining population is a fundamental objective of any translocation. We evaluated the success of translocating the threatened northern quoll to two islands in response to the threat posed by cane toads, with both populations reaching their regulation phase after going through establishment and growth phases. Collecting detailed demographic information is important in the translocation of species. Photograph by Ian Morris.

Published online 21 April 2017

WR16184Why didn't the lizard cross the road? Dunes sagebrush lizards exhibit road-avoidance behaviour

Toby J. Hibbitts, Lee A. Fitzgerald, Danielle K. Walkup and Wade A. Ryberg
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Roads are known to have negative impacts on wildlife, from direct mortality due to collisions with vehicles to indirect effects involving road-avoidance behaviours. We found that dunes sagebrush lizard movement patterns were significantly altered by roads and that the lizards rarely crossed the road. This avoidance behaviour indicates that although roads are small physical disturbances to habitat, their impacts on lizard population connectivity can be important.

Published online 15 February 2017

WR16171Mooted extinction of koalas at Eden: improving the information base

Vic Jurskis
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Koalas are virtually invisible in forests because they are solitary animals in large home ranges containing thousands of trees. Radiotracking studies at Eden showed that lack of sightings should not necessarily cause concern. However, sightings are rapidly increasing in an area of declining forest where further tracking would improve our understanding of historic irruptions and declines throughout the koala’s range.

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