Habitats modified for tourism affect the movement patterns of an endemic marsupial, the Rottnest Island quokka (Setonix brachyurus)

Veronica F. Phillips, Brian K. Chambers, Roberta Bencini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The quokka (Setonix brachyurus), an iconic marsupial endemic to Western Australia, is listed as vulnerable. It is found at its greatest abundance on Rottnest Island, where little is known about its home range and movement patterns. We estimated the home ranges of 22 male and 23 female quokkas within each season in four habitat types on Rottnest Island: coastal dune, grass/heath, woodland and settlement areas developed for tourism. We also tested for factors affecting home range and space use. The mean seasonal home-range size of quokkas was 1.91 ± 0.23 ha, and there was no effect of sex or weight, habitat type or wet or dry periods on the size of the home ranges. Home-range overlap during both night and day was significantly lower in the settlement (25.9%), compared with costal dunes (78.5%), woodlands (70.3%) and grass/heath (66.6%). This was due to feeding and resting sites being spatially separated, with quokkas resting outside of the settled areas during the day and travelling back to these areas to feed at night. This research demonstrates how tourism development can impact on the behaviour and movement patterns of local species and will inform future management of the quokka on Rottnest Island.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Mammalogy
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2019

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marsupial
tourism
Metatheria
home range
habitat
habitats
dunes
habitat type
dune
woodlands
woodland
grass
grasses
space use
tourism development
Western Australia
range size
gender

Cite this

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title = "Habitats modified for tourism affect the movement patterns of an endemic marsupial, the Rottnest Island quokka (Setonix brachyurus)",
abstract = "The quokka (Setonix brachyurus), an iconic marsupial endemic to Western Australia, is listed as vulnerable. It is found at its greatest abundance on Rottnest Island, where little is known about its home range and movement patterns. We estimated the home ranges of 22 male and 23 female quokkas within each season in four habitat types on Rottnest Island: coastal dune, grass/heath, woodland and settlement areas developed for tourism. We also tested for factors affecting home range and space use. The mean seasonal home-range size of quokkas was 1.91 ± 0.23 ha, and there was no effect of sex or weight, habitat type or wet or dry periods on the size of the home ranges. Home-range overlap during both night and day was significantly lower in the settlement (25.9{\%}), compared with costal dunes (78.5{\%}), woodlands (70.3{\%}) and grass/heath (66.6{\%}). This was due to feeding and resting sites being spatially separated, with quokkas resting outside of the settled areas during the day and travelling back to these areas to feed at night. This research demonstrates how tourism development can impact on the behaviour and movement patterns of local species and will inform future management of the quokka on Rottnest Island.",
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AB - The quokka (Setonix brachyurus), an iconic marsupial endemic to Western Australia, is listed as vulnerable. It is found at its greatest abundance on Rottnest Island, where little is known about its home range and movement patterns. We estimated the home ranges of 22 male and 23 female quokkas within each season in four habitat types on Rottnest Island: coastal dune, grass/heath, woodland and settlement areas developed for tourism. We also tested for factors affecting home range and space use. The mean seasonal home-range size of quokkas was 1.91 ± 0.23 ha, and there was no effect of sex or weight, habitat type or wet or dry periods on the size of the home ranges. Home-range overlap during both night and day was significantly lower in the settlement (25.9%), compared with costal dunes (78.5%), woodlands (70.3%) and grass/heath (66.6%). This was due to feeding and resting sites being spatially separated, with quokkas resting outside of the settled areas during the day and travelling back to these areas to feed at night. This research demonstrates how tourism development can impact on the behaviour and movement patterns of local species and will inform future management of the quokka on Rottnest Island.

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