Roadside vegetation can provide valuable habitat for small, terrestrial fauna in South Australia

Susan Mary Carthew, Liesl Garrett, Laura Ruykys

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    In some regions, extensive habitat clearance and fragmentation have largely restricted remnant vegetation to linear strips, often bordering roads and railway lines. Such areas may be important for the persistence of native wildlife but there is a paucity of research on their biodiversity value. This study in south-eastern South Australia compared the diversity and abundance of small, terrestrial animals in remnant vegetation, roadsides and farmland. Pitfall and Elliott trapping at 30 sites resulted in a total of 1,024 captures of 28 amphibian, reptile and mammal species, with 819 captures of six mammal species. Overall species diversity was highest in remnant sites and lowest in farm sites. Although low capture rates for reptiles and amphibians precluded statistical testing of individual species, many were caught in both remnant and roadside sites, but rarely at farm sites. Mammal captures consisted of four native (Cercartetus concinnus and C. lepidus, Pseudomys apodemoides and Rattus fuscipes) and two introduced (Mus musculus and Rattus rattus) species. Mus musculus was the most commonly caught species and was significantly more abundant in roadside than remnant vegetation. Abundance was negatively correlated with habitat quality and, at a finer scale, positively associated with percentage cover of exotic grasses. C. concinnus was also commonly captured; however, the absence of a difference in capture rates between remnant and roadside sites suggests that roadside vegetation provides important habitat. The abundance of C. concinnus was positively associated with percentage canopy cover. The current results highlight the conservation value of roadside vegetation and suggest that such areas should be both retained and appropriately managed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)737-754
    Number of pages18
    JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
    Volume22
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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