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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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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