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The effects of fire on the Southern Long-nosed Bandicoot (Perameles nasuta Geoffroy) in a highly heterogeneous landscape




MacGregor, Christopher

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Management of fire and fire regimes is an important part of reserve management. In Australia, fire is used as a management tool to protect human infrastructure and cultural and natural assets. It is also used in reserve management to reduce fuel loads and promote the regrowth of fire-dependent vegetation. Many vertebrate species depend upon the naturally occurring spatial mosaic of burnt and unburnt vegetation for survival with some taxa being associated with frequent fires while others are fire-sensitive and cannot tolerate frequent disturbances such as fires. In this thesis, I present the results of a long-term study of the terrestrial marsupial the Long-nosed Bandicoot (Perameles nasuta) in a highly heterogeneous and fire-prone landscape. I studied the species at Booderee National Park where there was a major wildfire in 2003 and other smaller wildfires since that time. Understanding how animals use heterogeneous environments and how disturbances such as fire influence habitat use is vital for wildlife management. I found that the Long-nosed Bandicoot showed a preference for particular types of vegetation in which to forage, especially unburnt vegetation. While fire did not significantly alter home-range size, it did influence the way animals used their home range. It is also important for wildlife management to determine the spatial and temporal pattern of refugia used within a heterogeneous landscape affected by fire. Sixty per cent of nests of the Long-nosed Bandicoot within the footprint of burnt forest and woodland habitat were in unburnt patches. These nests were significantly larger and were used more frequently than nests located in burnt microhabitat. Within areas broadly subject to fire, the Long-nosed Bandicoot typically constructed nests located in unburnt areas with dense grasses and a dense midstorey. However, the species also nested in open areas and responded to fire-affected areas by constructing smaller nests. It is also important to consider temporal and spatial scales in the management of biodiversity. In the short term, the wildfire affected how individual Long-nosed Bandicoots associated with their immediate habitat but in the longer term, it had limited effect on where they occurred in the broader landscape. I found that the spatial occurrence of the Long-nosed Bandicoot at Booderee National Park was more likely to be influenced by the relative amount of leaf litter than it was by the 2003 wildfire.






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