Habitat use by the brush-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus blythi)

J. Molyneux, C. R. Pavey, A. I. James, S. M. Carthew

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    One of the largest remaining marsupial predators to persist across the Australian arid zone, despite increasing pressures, is the brush-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus blythi). Although D. blythi populations have declined since European settlement, they are currently considered stable, persisting in small, low-density isolated populations during periods of low rainfall. The main threat to the species is currently thought to be large introduced and feral predators. Through spool and line tracking, we examined how the species utilises its surroundings in relation to access to food resources and exposure to predators during a low-rainfall period. We found that D. blythi uses the open space between vegetation, a microhabitat that is known to support important prey species. We found that some individuals experiencing greater physiological demands consistently used resource-rich patches (such as termite mounds). We also identified the repeated use of great desert skink (Liopholis kintorei) burrows, which may provide access to prey items (such as young skinks), protection from predators and/or thermoregulation benefits. This study shows that D. blythi utilises several components in the landscape to increase access to reliable food resources and shows little active selection for areas that provide protection from predators.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)335-345
    Number of pages11
    JournalAustralian Journal of Zoology
    Volume65
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2018

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    Molyneux, J., Pavey, C. R., James, A. I., & Carthew, S. M. (2018). Habitat use by the brush-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus blythi). Australian Journal of Zoology, 65(5), 335-345. https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO17032