Effects of different management strategies on long-term trends of Australian threatened and near-threatened mammals

Ayesha I.T. Tulloch, Micha V. Jackson, Elisa Bayraktarov, Alexander R. Carey, Diego F. Correa-Gomez, Michael Driessen, Ian C. Gynther, Mel Hardie, Katherine Moseby, Liana Joseph, Harriet Preece, Andrés Felipe Suarez-Castro, Stephanie Stuart, John C.Z. Woinarski, Hugh P. Possingham

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Abstract

Monitoring is critical to assess management effectiveness, but broadscale systematic assessments of monitoring to evaluate and improve recovery efforts are lacking. We compiled 1808 time series from 71 threatened and near-threatened terrestrial and volant mammal species and subspecies in Australia (48% of all threatened mammal taxa) to compare relative trends of populations subject to different management strategies. We adapted the Living Planet Index to develop the Threatened Species Index for Australian Mammals and track aggregate trends for all sampled threatened mammal populations and for small (<35 g), medium (35–5500 g), and large mammals (>5500 g) from 2000 to 2017. Unmanaged populations (42 taxa) declined by 63% on average; unmanaged small mammals exhibited the greatest declines (96%). Populations of 17 taxa in havens (islands and fenced areas that excluded or eliminated introduced red foxes [Vulpes vulpes] and domestic cats [Felis catus]) increased by 680%. Outside havens, populations undergoing sustained predator baiting initially declined by 75% but subsequently increased to 47% of their abundance in 2000. At sites where predators were not excluded or baited but other actions (e.g., fire management, introduced herbivore control) occurred, populations of small and medium mammals declined faster, but large mammals declined more slowly, than unmanaged populations. Only 13% of taxa had data for both unmanaged and managed populations; index comparisons for this subset showed that taxa with populations increasing inside havens declined outside havens but taxa with populations subject to predator baiting outside havens declined more slowly than populations with no management and then increased, whereas unmanaged populations continued to decline. More comprehensive and improved monitoring (particularly encompassing poorly represented management actions and taxonomic groups like bats and small mammals) is required to understand whether and where management has worked. Improved implementation of management for threats other than predation is critical to recover Australia's threatened mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14032
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalConservation Biology
Volume37
Issue number2
Early online date8 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

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