Is the presence of a threatened arboreal mammal in residential areas related to remnant habitats?

Marie Busschots, Paul Close, Bronte Van Helden, Peter Speldewinde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Remnant natural habitat is assumed critical for supporting threatened animals within urban landscapes because these species generally have specific habitat requirements and typically respond poorly to anthropogenic disturbances. However, evidence that demonstrates some threatened species can occur, persist and even prosper in highly modified areas with seemingly little dependence on remnant vegetation challenges the role remnant vegetation is perceived to play in sustaining threatened species in urban landscapes. In this study, we tested the assumption that the presence of a threatened species in modified areas of an urban environment was dependent on remnant vegetation using the Critically Endangered western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) as a case study. We predicted that the presence of possums in highly modified habitats would be positively correlated with proximity to remnant vegetation. Using spotlight surveys of 195 transects to determine species occurrence on residential streets, we found that the presence of the western ringtail possum was not related to remnant vegetation within the immediate surrounds, nor the distance from remnant habitats (neither large nor small). Our results promote the suggestion that highly modified habitats in urban landscapes can contribute conservation outcomes and that their potential role in wildlife conservation warrants serious consideration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustral Ecology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Sep 2020

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