Responses of small vertebrates to linear clearings in a South Australian woodland

Susan Mary Carthew, Katherine Jones, Michael Lawes

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    This work assesses whether the width and "permanence" of linear clearings affects the distribution and movement patterns of small, terrestrial vertebrates in a native South Australian woodland. We examined the influence of narrow (1.5 and 4.2 m), non-permanent seismic exploration tracks; and wide (6-7 and 12-15 m), permanent fire tracks. There were 1,007 captures of 14 species (four amphibians, six reptiles, four mammals) from 18,000 trap days/nights across 15 sites. Total species richness was highest adjacent to 6-7 m wide permanent tracks (8.3) and lowest in areas without clearings (5.3). There was heterogeneity of captures between track types (p < 0.008), species (p < 0.001), and species by track type (p < 0.001). Antechinus flavipes was most abundant adjacent to both types of permanent tracks, probably as a result of increased habitat complexity at these sites. Twenty-four percent of movements by recaptured A. flavipes involved track crossings. Animals crossed all track types; nevertheless, individuals were more likely to be recaptured on the same side of a track. Individuals were less likely to cross permanent tracks (p = 0.025 for 6-7 m and p = 0.008 for 12 to 15-m-wide tracks), with females being particularly inhibited. Although 11 % of 56 recaptured Rattus spp. had crossed a track, no individuals crossed the 12 to 15-m permanent tracks. In the habitat type studied here, narrow seismic lines may have a slightly positive effect on some ground-dwelling vertebrates, and do not appear to substantially inhibit movement. However, there is a need to carefully manage permanent tracks, which could isolate faunal populations. � 2013 The Ecological Society of Japan.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1003-1010
    Number of pages8
    JournalEcological Research
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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