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1.
PLoS One ; 15(3): e0224258, 2020.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32134939

RESUMO

Simplification of stand structure of forests and woodlands through human-induced modification is a serious threat to biodiversity. Restoring lost habitat complexity and heterogeneity, such as woody debris, requires an understanding of the relationships between different elements that contribute to stand structure. In this study, we examine the structure and composition of a critically endangered box-gum grassy woodland in south-eastern Australia and relationships with woody debris loads. We found that: (1) despite modification by humans and differing susceptibility to dieback, the two dominant tree species, Blakeley's red gum, Eucalyptus blakelyi and yellow box, E. melliodora, occurred in similar proportions irrespective of vegetation density; (2) E. blakelyi had the largest number of stems and basal area, but while E. melliodora had fewer stems, it had a similar basal area to E. blakelyi. E. melliodora also showed fewer signs of dieback than E. blakelyi with between 40-50% trees in good condition compared to 2% for the latter species; (3) woody debris loads were low compared to other studies in woodland, but there were levels of heterogeneity indicating 'natural' accumulation was occurring; (4) tree basal area and woody debris loads had a 1:1 relationship across all sites and vegetation densities. Overall, our study indicated that ecosystem recovery was taking place (i.e. with many young trees), but there were fewer large trees that are known to supply most woody debris. Our findings highlight the slow accumulation of this critical resource because the volumes were lower than expected. Based on our results, we recommend: (1) aiming for approximately a 50:50 ratio of yellow box to Blakely's red gum basal area in woodland restoration projects; (2) to accelerate the recovery of woodland structure, addition of woody debris should be added at a minimum ratio of 1:1 to standing basal area (i.e. a basal area of 5.99 m2 requires a minimum volume of 3.11 m3) (3) managing for both volume and heterogeneity of woody debris loads; (4) preserving large diameter trees to harness proportionally higher woody debris and litter inputs.

2.
J Wildl Dis ; 2020 Feb 04.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32017663

RESUMO

We evaluated the health of 31 (eight males, 23 females) founder eastern quolls (Dasyurus viverrinus), translocated to a fenced reserve in the Australian Capital Territory between February 2016 and July 2017. Quolls were wild caught in Tasmania (16 animals) or captive bred at Mount Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre, Victoria (15 animals). Quolls were assessed for the presence of selected potential pathogens (Toxoplasma gondii, herpesviruses, Salmonella serovars, hemoprotozoa, and ectoparasites). We assessed the relationships among sex, provenance (captive or free ranging), Toxoplasma gondii or herpesvirus infection, weight, and hematologic and biochemical variables. Six of 21 quolls (29%) tested were seropositive for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii. Seropositive quolls weighed significantly more and had significantly lower potassium levels, anion gaps, and urea and triglyceride levels than seronegative quolls had. Eighteen of 31 (58%) combined conjunctival-pharyngeal-cloacal swabs collected from quolls were PCR positive for a newly identified gammaherpesvirus, tentatively named dasyurid gammaherpesvirus 3. There were no significant differences among hematologic and biochemical variables or body weights from PCR-positive and PCR-negative quolls. Eighteen of 18 (100%) of rectal-swab samples were culture negative for Salmonella serovars. Three species of tick (Ixodes tasmani, Ixodes fecialis, and Ixodes holocyclus), two species of mite (Andreacus radfordi, one unidentified), and four species of flea (Pygiopsylla hoplia, Acanthopsylla rothschildi rothschildi, Uropsylla tasmanica, and Stephanocircus dasyuri), were detected on wild-caught quolls, whereas a fifth species of flea, Echidnophaga myremecobii, was detected only on captive-bred quolls. Five of 15 blood samples (33%) were positive for hemoprotozoan DNA via PCR, a novel Hepatozoon species, a novel Theileria species, Theileria paparinii, and Trypanosoma copemani were detected. Despite the presence of several potential pathogens known to be associated with disease in other marsupials, the quolls were considered to be in good general health, suitable for translocation, and a viable population was subsequently established.

3.
PeerJ ; 7: e7506, 2019.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31497393

RESUMO

Temperate grasslands and woodlands are the focus of extensive restoration efforts worldwide. Reintroduction of locally extinct soil-foraging and burrowing animals has been suggested as a means to restore soil function in these ecosystems. Yet little is known about the physical and chemical effects of digging on soil over time and how these effects differ between species of digging animal, vegetation types or ecosystems. We compared foraging pits of a native reintroduced marsupial, the eastern bettong (Bettongia gaimardi) and that of the exotic European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). We simulated pits of these animals and measured pit dimensions and soil chemical properties over a period of 2 years. We showed that bettong and rabbit pits differed in their morphology and longevity, and that pits had a strong moderating effect on soil surface temperatures. Over 75% of the simulated pits were still visible after 2 years, and bettong pits infilled faster than rabbit pits. Bettong pits reduced diurnal temperature range by up to 25 °C compared to the soil surface. We did not find any effects of digging on soil chemistry that were consistent across vegetation types, between bettong and rabbit pits, and with time since digging, which is contrary to studies conducted in arid biomes. Our findings show that animal foraging pits in temperate ecosystems cause physical alteration of the soil surface and microclimatic conditions rather than nutrient changes often observed in arid areas.

4.
PeerJ ; 7: e6622, 2019.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31179166

RESUMO

The eastern bettong (Bettongia gaimardi), a medium-sized digging marsupial, was reintroduced to a predator-free reserve after 100 years of absence from the Australian mainland. The bettong may have the potential to restore temperate woodlands degraded by a history of livestock grazing, by creating numerous small disturbances by digging. We investigated the digging capacity of the bettong and compared this to extant fauna, to answer the first key question of whether this species could be considered an ecosystem engineer, and ultimately if it has the capacity to restore lost ecological processes. We found that eastern bettongs were frequent diggers and, at a density of 0.3-0.4 animals ha-1, accounted for over half the total foraging pits observed (55%), with echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus), birds and feral rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) accounting for the rest. We estimated that the population of bettongs present dug 985 kg of soil per ha per year in our study area. Bettongs dug more where available phosphorus was higher, where there was greater basal area of Acacia spp. and where kangaroo grazing was less. There was no effect on digging of eucalypt stem density or volume of logs on the ground. While bettong digging activity was more frequent under trees, digging also occurred in open grassland, and bettongs were the only species observed to dig in scalds (areas where topsoil has eroded to the B Horizon). These results highlight the potential for bettongs to enhance soil processes in a way not demonstrated by the existing fauna (native birds and echidna), and introduced rabbit.

5.
PLoS One ; 9(12): e105966, 2014.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-25501680

RESUMO

Large mammalian grazers can alter the biotic and abiotic features of their environment through their impacts on vegetation. Grazing at moderate intensity has been recommended for biodiversity conservation. Few studies, however, have empirically tested the benefits of moderate grazing intensity in systems dominated by native grazers. Here we investigated the relationship between (1) density of native eastern grey kangaroos, Macropus giganteus, and grass structure, and (2) grass structure and reptiles (i.e. abundance, richness, diversity and occurrence) across 18 grassland and grassy Eucalyptus woodland properties in south-eastern Australia. There was a strong negative relationship between kangaroo density and grass structure after controlling for tree canopy cover. We therefore used grass structure as a surrogate for grazing intensity. Changes in grazing intensity (i.e. grass structure) significantly affected reptile abundance, reptile species richness, reptile species diversity, and the occurrence of several ground-dwelling reptiles. Reptile abundance, species richness and diversity were highest where grazing intensity was low. Importantly, no species of reptile was more likely to occur at high grazing intensities. Legless lizards (Delma impar, D. inornata) were more likely to be detected in areas subject to moderate grazing intensity, whereas one species (Hemiergis talbingoensis) was less likely to be detected in areas subject to intense grazing and three species (Menetia greyii, Morethia boulengeri, and Lampropholis delicata) did not appear to be affected by grazing intensity. Our data indicate that to maximize reptile abundance, species richness, species diversity, and occurrence of several individual species of reptile, managers will need to subject different areas of the landscape to moderate and low grazing intensities and limit the occurrence and extent of high grazing.


Assuntos
Ingestão de Alimentos , Florestas , Pradaria , Macropodidae/fisiologia , Répteis/fisiologia , Animais , Austrália , Biodiversidade , Conservação dos Recursos Naturais , Eucalyptus , Poaceae , Análise de Componente Principal , Austrália do Sul
6.
PLoS One ; 9(6): e99403, 2014.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-24941258

RESUMO

Large old trees are disproportionate providers of structural elements (e.g. hollows, coarse woody debris), which are crucial habitat resources for many species. The decline of large old trees in modified landscapes is of global conservation concern. Once large old trees are removed, they are difficult to replace in the short term due to typically prolonged time periods needed for trees to mature (i.e. centuries). Few studies have investigated the decline of large old trees in urban landscapes. Using a simulation model, we predicted the future availability of native hollow-bearing trees (a surrogate for large old trees) in an expanding city in southeastern Australia. In urban greenspace, we predicted that the number of hollow-bearing trees is likely to decline by 87% over 300 years under existing management practices. Under a worst case scenario, hollow-bearing trees may be completely lost within 115 years. Conversely, we predicted that the number of hollow-bearing trees will likely remain stable in semi-natural nature reserves. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the number of hollow-bearing trees perpetuated in urban greenspace over the long term is most sensitive to the: (1) maximum standing life of trees; (2) number of regenerating seedlings ha(-1); and (3) rate of hollow formation. We tested the efficacy of alternative urban management strategies and found that the only way to arrest the decline of large old trees requires a collective management strategy that ensures: (1) trees remain standing for at least 40% longer than currently tolerated lifespans; (2) the number of seedlings established is increased by at least 60%; and (3) the formation of habitat structures provided by large old trees is accelerated by at least 30% (e.g. artificial structures) to compensate for short term deficits in habitat resources. Immediate implementation of these recommendations is needed to avert long term risk to urban biodiversity.


Assuntos
Conservação dos Recursos Naturais , Árvores/crescimento & desenvolvimento , Território da Capital Australiana , Planejamento de Cidades , Simulação por Computador , Modelos Logísticos , Urbanização
7.
J Wildl Dis ; 50(2): 210-23, 2014 Apr.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-24484484

RESUMO

Sixty (19 male, 41 female) free-ranging adult eastern bettongs (Bettongia gaimardi) were captured in Tasmania and translocated to the Australian Capital Territory between July 2011 and September 2012 for reintroduction into fenced, predator-proof reserves. The bettongs were anesthetized for physical examination and screened for selected diseases during translocation. Reference ranges for hematologic and biochemical parameters were determined. Two bettongs had detectable antibodies to the alphaherpesviruses macropodid herpesvirus 1 and macropodid herpesvirus 2 by serum neutralization assay. A novel gammaherpesvirus was detected, via PCR, from pooled swabs collected from the nasal, conjunctival, and urogenital tract mucosa of four other bettongs. Sera from 59 bettongs were negative for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii as assessed by both the modified agglutination test and the direct agglutination test (n = 53) or by the modified agglutination test only (n = 6). Rectal swabs from 14 bettongs were submitted for bacterial culture and all were negative for Salmonella serovars. Ectoparasites identified on the bettongs included fleas (Pygiopsylla zethi, Stephanocircus harrisoni), a louse (Paraheterodoxous sp.), mites (Guntheria cf. pertinax, Haemolaelaps hatteni, a suspected protonymph of Thadeua sp., Cytostethum tasmaniense, Cytostethum intermedium, Cytostethum thetis, Cytostethum wallabia), and ticks (Ixodes cornuatus, Ixodes trichosuri, Ixodes tasmani). An intraerythrocytic organism morphologically consistent with a Theileria species was identified in blood smears from four bettongs. These data provide baseline health and disease information for free-ranging eastern bettongs that can be used for the conservation management of both the source and translocated populations.


Assuntos
Infecções Bacterianas/veterinária , Ectoparasitoses/veterinária , Potoroidae , Theileriose/parasitologia , Toxoplasmose Animal/imunologia , Animais , Infecções Bacterianas/epidemiologia , Infecções Bacterianas/microbiologia , Ectoparasitoses/epidemiologia , Ectoparasitoses/parasitologia , Feminino , Masculino , Tasmânia/epidemiologia , Theileria/isolamento & purificação , Toxoplasmose Animal/epidemiologia
8.
Oecologia ; 174(2): 545-57, 2014 Feb.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-24114403

RESUMO

New insights into community-level responses at the urban fringe, and the mechanisms underlying them, are needed. In our study, we investigated the compositional distinctiveness and variability of a breeding bird community at both sides of established edges between suburban residential areas and woodland reserves in Canberra, Australia. Our goals were to determine if: (1) community-level responses were direct (differed with distance from the edge, independent of vegetation) or indirect (differed in response to edge-related changes in vegetation), and (2) if guild-level responses provided the mechanism underpinning community-level responses. We found that suburbs and reserves supported significantly distinct bird communities. The suburban bird community, characterised by urban-adapted native and exotic species, had a weak direct edge response, with decreasing compositional variability with distance from the edge. In comparison, the reserve bird community, characterised by woodland-dependent species, was related to local tree and shrub cover. This was not an indirect response, however, as tree and shrub cover was not related to edge distance. We found that the relative richness of nesting, foraging and body size guilds also displayed similar edge responses, indicating that they underpinned the observed community-level responses. Our study illustrates how community-level responses provide valuable insights into how communities respond to differences in resources between two contrasting habitats. Further, the effects of the suburban matrix penetrate into reserves for greater distances than previously thought. Suburbs and adjacent reserves, however, provided important habitat resources for many native species and the conservation of these areas should not be discounted from continued management strategies.


Assuntos
Aves/classificação , Aves/fisiologia , Ecossistema , Animais , Austrália , Árvores
9.
Exp Appl Acarol ; 63(1): 1-13, 2014 May.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-24292438

RESUMO

Carrion is an ephemeral and nutrient-rich resource that attracts a diverse array of arthropods as it decomposes. Carrion-associated mites often disperse between animal carcasses using phoresy, the transport of one species by another. Yet few studies have contrasted the dynamics of mite assemblages with other insect taxa present at carrion. We examined and compared the changes in abundance, species richness and composition of mite and beetle assemblages sampled at kangaroo carcasses in a grassy eucalypt woodland at four different times over a 6-month period. We found that the majority of mites were phoretic, with the mesostigmatid genera Uroseius (Uropodidae), Macrocheles (Macrochelidae) and Parasitus (Parasitidae) the most abundant taxa (excluding astigmatid mites). Abundance and richness patterns of mites and beetles were very different, with mites reaching peak abundance and richness at weeks 6 and 12, and beetles at weeks 1 and 6. Both mites and beetles showed clear successional patterns via changes in species presence and relative abundance. Our study shows that mesostigmatid mite assemblages have a delay in peak abundance and richness relative to beetle assemblages. This suggests that differences in dispersal and reproductive traits of arthropods may contribute to the contrasting diversity dynamics of carrion arthropod communities, and further highlights the role of carrion as a driver of diversity and heterogeneity in ecosystems.


Assuntos
Comportamento Animal , Besouros/fisiologia , Ácaros/fisiologia , Animais , Biodiversidade , Macropodidae/parasitologia , Ácaros/classificação , Dinâmica Populacional
10.
PLoS One ; 8(1): e53961, 2013.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-23326549

RESUMO

Carrion is an ephemeral and spatially patchy resource that supports a diverse subset of species linked to nutrient cycling and the decomposition process. A number of studies have separately documented changes in the diversity of plants, arthropods and vertebrates at individual carcasses, but there are few studies that have examined how functional traits of different groups of organisms underpin their responses to carrion patches. We used a carrion addition experiment to compare changes in composition and functional traits of insect and plant assemblages at carcasses compared with control sites. We found that significant changes in insect assemblage evenness and heterogeneity was associated with species' dispersal traits, and that plant assemblage responses to subsequent soil nitrogen changes was most apparent among graminoids and exotic species. Beetles at carcasses were twice as large as their counterparts at control sites during the first week of carrion decomposition, and also had higher wing loadings. Plants with high specific leaf area responded faster to the carcass addition, and twice as many species recolonised the centre of carcasses in exotic-dominated grassland compared with carcasses in native-dominated grassland. These results provide an example of how traits of opportunist species enable them to exploit patchy and dynamic resources. This increases our understanding of how carcasses can drive biodiversity dynamics, and has implications for the way carrion might be managed in ecosystems, such as appropriate consideration of spatial and temporal continuity in carrion resources to promote heterogeneity in nutrient cycling and species diversity within landscapes.


Assuntos
Ecossistema , Insetos/fisiologia , Plantas/metabolismo , Vertebrados , Animais , Biodiversidade , Insetos/metabolismo , Nitrogênio/metabolismo , Folhas de Planta/metabolismo , Folhas de Planta/fisiologia , Solo , Vertebrados/metabolismo , Vertebrados/fisiologia
11.
PLoS One ; 8(1): e54539, 2013.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-23349923

RESUMO

Habitat restoration can play an important role in recovering functioning ecosystems and improving biodiversity. Restoration may be particularly important in improving habitat prior to species reintroductions. We reintroduced seven brown treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus) social groups into two nature reserves in the Australian Capital Territory in south-eastern Australia. This study provided a unique opportunity to understand the interactions between restoration ecology, behavioural ecology and habitat ecology. We examined how experimental restoration treatments (addition of coarse woody debris, variations in ground vegetation cover and nest box installation) influenced the behaviour and microhabitat use of radio-tracked individuals to evaluate the success of restoration treatments. The addition of coarse woody debris benefited the brown treecreeper through increasing the probability of foraging on a log or on the ground. This demonstrated the value of using behaviour as a bio-indicator for restoration success. Based on previous research, we predicted that variations in levels of ground vegetation cover would influence behaviour and substrate use, particularly that brown treecreepers would choose sites with sparse ground cover because this allows better access to food and better vigilance for predators. However, there was little effect of this treatment, which was likely influenced by the limited overall use of the ground layer. There was also little effect of nest boxes on behaviour or substrate use. These results somewhat confound our understanding of the species based on research from extant populations. Our results also have a significant impact regarding using existing knowledge on a species to inform how it will respond to reintroduction and habitat restoration. This study also places great emphasis on the value of applying an experimental framework to ecological restoration, particularly when reintroductions produce unexpected outcomes.


Assuntos
Comportamento Animal/fisiologia , Conservação dos Recursos Naturais , Passeriformes/fisiologia , Animais , Biodiversidade , Ecologia , Ecossistema , Humanos , Masculino , Austrália do Sul , Árvores
12.
Oecologia ; 171(4): 761-72, 2013 Apr.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-23007807

RESUMO

Carrion provides a resource for a subset of animal species that deliver a critical ecosystem service by consuming dead animal matter and recycling its nutrients. A growing number of studies have also shown various effects of carrion on different plant and microbial communities. However, there has been no review of these studies to bring this information together and identify priority areas for future research. We review carrion ecology studies from the last two decades and summarise the range of spatial and temporal effects of carrion on soil nutrients, microbes, plants, arthropods, and vertebrates. We identify key knowledge gaps in carrion ecology, and discuss how closing these gaps can be achieved by focusing future research on the (1) different kinds of carrion resources, (2) interactions between different components of the carrion community, (3) the ways that ecosystem context can moderate carrion effects, and (4) considerations for carrion management. To guide this research, we outline a framework that builds on the 'ephemeral resource patch' concept, and helps to structure research questions that link localised effects of carrion with their consequences at landscape scales. This will enable improved characterisation of carrion as a unique resource pool, provide answers for land managers in a position to influence carrion availability, and establish the ways that carrion affects the dynamics of species diversity and ecological processes within landscapes.


Assuntos
Fenômenos Fisiológicos da Nutrição Animal/fisiologia , Cadáver , Cadeia Alimentar , Modelos Biológicos , Fenômenos Fisiológicos Vegetais/fisiologia , Microbiologia do Solo , Solo/análise , Animais , Pesquisa/tendências
13.
PLoS One ; 7(12): e50612, 2012.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-23227192

RESUMO

It is essential to choose suitable habitat when reintroducing a species into its former range. Habitat quality may influence an individual's dispersal decisions and also ultimately where they choose to settle. We examined whether variation in habitat quality (quantified by the level of ground vegetation cover and the installation of nest boxes) influenced the movement, habitat choice and survival of a reintroduced bird species. We experimentally reintroduced seven social groups (43 individuals) of the brown treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus) into two nature reserves in south-eastern Australia. We radio-tracked 18 brown treecreepers from release in November 2009 until February 2010. We observed extensive movements by individuals irrespective of the release environment or an individual's gender. This indicated that individuals were capable of dispersing and actively selecting optimum habitat. This may alleviate pressure on wildlife planners to accurately select the most optimum release sites, so long as the species' requirements are met. There was significant variation in movement between social groups, suggesting that social factors may be a more important influence on movement than habitat characteristics. We found a significant effect of ground vegetation cover on the likelihood of settlement by social groups, with high rates of settlement and survival in dry forests, rather than woodland (where the species typically resides), which has implications for the success of woodland restoration. However, overall the effects of variation in habitat quality were not as strong as we had expected, and resulted in some unpredicted effects such as low survival and settlement in woodland areas with medium levels of ground vegetation cover. The extensive movement by individuals and unforeseen effects of habitat characteristics make it difficult to predict the outcome of reintroductions, the movement behaviour and habitat selection of reintroduced individuals, particularly when based on current knowledge of a species' ecology.


Assuntos
Aves/fisiologia , Ecossistema , Árvores , Animais , Território da Capital Australiana , Conservação dos Recursos Naturais , Telemetria
15.
Trends Ecol Evol ; 22(12): 621-4, 2007 Dec.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-17997188

RESUMO

Despite increasing efforts to reach sustainability, key global biophysical indicators such as climate change and biodiversity loss continue to deteriorate rather than improve. Ongoing failure to move towards sustainability calls into question the focus of current research and policy. We recommend two strategies for progress. First, sustainability must be conceptualized as a hierarchy of considerations, with the biophysical limits of the Earth setting the ultimate boundaries within which social and economic goals must be achieved. Second, transdisciplinary research programs must confront key normative questions facing modern consumer societies. The humanities should have a key role in such programs. Assisted by these strategies, ambitious targets that realistically reflect the biophysical limits of the life-support system of the Earth must be set and relentlessly worked towards.


Assuntos
Conservação dos Recursos Naturais , Efeito Estufa , Política Pública , Pesquisa , Biodiversidade
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