Abstract | Developing an effective method for the safe dispersal of the threatened Brush-tailed Phascogale across roads and other barriers
The threatened Brush-tailed Phascogale occurs throughout south-eastern Australia. Loss of habitat has significantly reduced the population and in Victoria, the species is now largely confined to the fragmented landscape of central Victoria.
A long-term study is currently underway to investigate effective management of Phascogales in a fragmented landscape. Research themes include determining an effective solution to the loss of hollow bearing trees, developing a better understanding of how the species interacts with various land uses and determine an effective species specific road crossing structure.
Connectivity in the landscape is essential for the Brush-tailed Phascogale which disperses long distances during the breeding season. Large tracts of cleared land including roads can have significant impact on free ranging wildlife such as Phascogales and may limit long-term viability of populations. Furthermore, vehicle collisions are known to be responsible for a number of Brush-tailed Phascogale deaths each year.
Attempts to develop canopy rope bridges across roads for the conservation of Brush-tailed Phascogales have had mixed results. Recent studies have revealed that arboreal mammals often have varying preferences for bridge materials. There is a need to determine the bridge material preferences for the threatened Brush-tailed Phascogale to inform effective future bridges construction. In this study, a variety of experiments will be undertaken to determine the most effective way at providing Phascogales with a safe dispersal method across roads.
Field experiments will test whether Phascogales prefer underground culverts to rope bridge crossings. While a variety of materials for bridge designs will also be tested including large diameter rope, woven mesh and rope ladder. Crossing structures will also be tested in real world situations across roads in areas where Phascogales are known to occur.
Bio | William Terry
William Terry, PhD student from Southern Cross University and environment officer at Macedon Ranges Shire Council Ross Goldingay, Associate Professor at Southern Cross University Rodney van der Ree, Ecologist working as a private consultant and as an environment officer with Melbourne City Council.