Novel Conservation Strategies to Conserve Australian Marsupials

Sarah Legge, Matt Hayward, Andrew Weeks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

The Australian marsupial fauna has been devastated in the past 250 years, mainly due to impacts from invasive mammalian predators (cats and foxes), although other threats such as invasive herbivores, habitat loss and fragmentation, changes to fire regimes, and now climate change have played a role. The profound and ongoing impact of invasive predators has driven substantial research and management innovation. Australia has been at the forefront of developing approaches to reduce the density and impacts of introduced predators and implementing novel and ambitious species conservation programs. A large and growing network of islands and mainland fenced areas, free of introduced predators (“havens”), has been critical for avoiding further species extinctions. Outside these havens, advances in toxin presentation and deployment have enabled cat and fox densities to be reduced over large areas. Substantial research and field trials have been carried out to understand how predator-prey interactions, and habitat quality management, can be used to reduce predation impacts on susceptible native species. Synthetic biology offers new opportunities to manage introduced predators, including potentially by using gene drives. Finally, the attenuation of the formerly large continuous ranges of many species to small, isolated population remnants (because of predation or other reasons) has also driven research and improvements in genetic and metapopulation management that will increase the chance of population persistence in the longer term. However, unless Australia continues to invest in research and innovative conservation actions, the plight of its priceless marsupial fauna will remain perilous.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican and Australasian Marsupials
Subtitle of host publicationAn Evolutionary, Biogeographical, and Ecological Approach
PublisherSpringer
Chapter50
Pages1555-1584
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9783031084195
ISBN (Print)9783031084188
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023

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