Use of urban bushland remnants by the western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis): Short-term home-range size and habitat use in Albany, Western Australia

Bronte Van Helden, Peter Speldewinde, Paul Close, Sarah Comer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Management of wildlife in habitats fragmented by urbanisation requires an understanding of a species’ habitat use. Known populations of the critically endangered western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) are largely restricted to bushland remnants in rapidly urbanising areas of south-western Australia. Habitat use is thought to be driven by nutritional content, structure and connectivity of canopy vegetation. At the southernmost extent of the species’ range, habitat use is largely unknown, although it is expected to be different from previous descriptions due to differences in vegetation characteristics. We used VHF and global positioning system tracking collars to determine short-term home-range size, diurnal refuge use and night-time tree use of western ringtail possums in bushland remnants within Albany City. Possums had small home ranges (0.88 ha) that were negatively correlated with percentage canopy cover; used a variety of daytime refuges (predominantly dreys); and preferentially utilised marri (Corymbia calophylla) and jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) at night. These results confirm that differences in habitat use among populations exist and suggests that the species is reasonably flexible in its use of habitat. Management of western ringtail possums needs to be population specific and will benefit from further examination of habitat use in the variety of occupied habitats.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-180
JournalAustralian Mammalogy
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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bushland
home range
habitat use
shrublands
Western Australia
range size
habitats
Eucalyptus marginata
refuge
habitat
canopy
Corymbia calophylla
vegetation
connectivity
wildlife habitats
urbanization
global positioning systems
GPS
collars
possums

Cite this

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title = "Use of urban bushland remnants by the western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis): Short-term home-range size and habitat use in Albany, Western Australia",
abstract = "Management of wildlife in habitats fragmented by urbanisation requires an understanding of a species’ habitat use. Known populations of the critically endangered western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) are largely restricted to bushland remnants in rapidly urbanising areas of south-western Australia. Habitat use is thought to be driven by nutritional content, structure and connectivity of canopy vegetation. At the southernmost extent of the species’ range, habitat use is largely unknown, although it is expected to be different from previous descriptions due to differences in vegetation characteristics. We used VHF and global positioning system tracking collars to determine short-term home-range size, diurnal refuge use and night-time tree use of western ringtail possums in bushland remnants within Albany City. Possums had small home ranges (0.88 ha) that were negatively correlated with percentage canopy cover; used a variety of daytime refuges (predominantly dreys); and preferentially utilised marri (Corymbia calophylla) and jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) at night. These results confirm that differences in habitat use among populations exist and suggests that the species is reasonably flexible in its use of habitat. Management of western ringtail possums needs to be population specific and will benefit from further examination of habitat use in the variety of occupied habitats.",
author = "{Van Helden}, Bronte and Peter Speldewinde and Paul Close and Sarah Comer",
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doi = "10.1071/AM17026",
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N2 - Management of wildlife in habitats fragmented by urbanisation requires an understanding of a species’ habitat use. Known populations of the critically endangered western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) are largely restricted to bushland remnants in rapidly urbanising areas of south-western Australia. Habitat use is thought to be driven by nutritional content, structure and connectivity of canopy vegetation. At the southernmost extent of the species’ range, habitat use is largely unknown, although it is expected to be different from previous descriptions due to differences in vegetation characteristics. We used VHF and global positioning system tracking collars to determine short-term home-range size, diurnal refuge use and night-time tree use of western ringtail possums in bushland remnants within Albany City. Possums had small home ranges (0.88 ha) that were negatively correlated with percentage canopy cover; used a variety of daytime refuges (predominantly dreys); and preferentially utilised marri (Corymbia calophylla) and jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) at night. These results confirm that differences in habitat use among populations exist and suggests that the species is reasonably flexible in its use of habitat. Management of western ringtail possums needs to be population specific and will benefit from further examination of habitat use in the variety of occupied habitats.

AB - Management of wildlife in habitats fragmented by urbanisation requires an understanding of a species’ habitat use. Known populations of the critically endangered western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) are largely restricted to bushland remnants in rapidly urbanising areas of south-western Australia. Habitat use is thought to be driven by nutritional content, structure and connectivity of canopy vegetation. At the southernmost extent of the species’ range, habitat use is largely unknown, although it is expected to be different from previous descriptions due to differences in vegetation characteristics. We used VHF and global positioning system tracking collars to determine short-term home-range size, diurnal refuge use and night-time tree use of western ringtail possums in bushland remnants within Albany City. Possums had small home ranges (0.88 ha) that were negatively correlated with percentage canopy cover; used a variety of daytime refuges (predominantly dreys); and preferentially utilised marri (Corymbia calophylla) and jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) at night. These results confirm that differences in habitat use among populations exist and suggests that the species is reasonably flexible in its use of habitat. Management of western ringtail possums needs to be population specific and will benefit from further examination of habitat use in the variety of occupied habitats.

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