Home range and den characteristics of the brush-tailed rabbit-rat (Conilurus penicillatus) in the monsoonal tropics of the Northern Territory, Australia

R Firth, John Woinarski, Richard Noske

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Radio-telemetry was used to investigate the home range and den characteristics of the brush-tailed rabbit-rat (Conilurus penicillatus) from three sites in the monsoonal tropics of the Northern Territory, Australia. Radio-tracking was conducted in a series of discontinuous 4-17-day sessions, over a 2-year period. The home ranges of 61 C. penicillatus were estimated using the minimum convex polygon (MCP) and fixed kernel (K95% and K50%) methods. There were no significant differences in home-range size among the three sites or between wet and dry seasons, which suggests that vegetation structure, floristics and season play relatively little role in movements of C. penicillatus. The mean home-range size was 0.79 � 0.09 ha (MCP estimate) to 0.97 � 0.12 ha (K95% estimate). The home ranges of males were larger than those of females (mean MCP estimates of 1.07 � 0.15 and 0.45 � 0.06 ha respectively). C. penicillatus denned primarily in fallen logs and in hollows of eucalypts and bloodwoods (Corymbia spp.). Rough-barked trees appeared to be preferred. The diameter at breast height (DBH) of den trees varied significantly between the three sites, being greatest at site C1 (34.5 � 2.4 cm) and least at site C2 (26.1 � 1.0 cm). Den trees had larger DBH than randomly selected trees at each site. The diameter at the mid-point (DMP) of both den and randomly selected logs were not significantly different between sites. Many individuals used more than one den site per tracking session. The small home ranges of C. penicillatus and its reliance on hollows in trees and logs suggest that this species is very vulnerable to local extinction following long-term annual and destructive fire regimes and land clearing, even in comparatively small patches. � CSIRO 2006.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)397-407
    Number of pages11
    JournalWildlife Research
    Volume33
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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