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Are management actions for hollow-users effective?: Retained tree use in harvested areas by bats and possums.

Cawthen L. A C D, Nicol, S.C. A and Munks, S. A B C

A University of Tasmania, School of Zoology, Private Bag 05, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia.
B Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority, 30 Patrick Street, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia.
C CRC for Forestry, Private Bag 12, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
D Corresponding author. Tel: 03 62262632. Fax: 03 62262745. Email: lcawthen@utas.edu.au

Hollow-bearing trees are retained in harvested areas to mitigate against the impacts of forest harvesting on fauna. Yet few studies have investigated the effectiveness of such management actions in meeting their objectives. Such research is essential for adaptive management, a principle that underlies many forest management systems around the world. Our research aims to determine whether hollow-bearing trees retained in dry eucalypt forest are used post-harvest by micro-bats and the common brushtail possum, and what factors influence use.  We found that while both possums and bats were captured in harvested areas, this did not necessarily equate to retained hollow-bearing trees being used as den / roost sites, with the degree of use varying between species and for possums, time since harvest. We also found that both possums and bats used similar denning / roosting habitat, with instances of simultanious tree hollow use by possums and bats.  Our research suggests that the retention of hollow-bearing trees in harvested areas may be an effective measure at enabling recolonisation of harvested areas for some species, but that it also important to ensure that large patches of mature forest (containing hollows) are retained in the surrounding landscape to ensure the persistence of hollow-using fauna.  

Biobuzz issue fifteen, December 2011