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Ms Shannon Troy

Shannon Troy - thumbMs Shannon Troy

PhD student

Topic: the ecology of the Tasmanian spotted-tailed quoll in landscapes subject to production forestry

University of Tasmania

Email: sntroy@utas.edu.au

The Tasmanian spotted-tailed quoll Dasyurus maculatus maculatus is a medium-sized carnivorous marsupial that is listed as vulnerable nationally and rare in Tasmania. Habitat loss resulting from timber harvesting has been implicated in local population declines and extinctions of the endangered mainland spotted-tailed quoll. The relatively high rate of clearfell logging in the spotted-tailed quoll’s Tasmanian core distribution has also been suggested to be having a negative impact on the population viability of the Tasmanian spotted-tailed quoll. However, the impacts of clearfell logging on quolls have not been quantified.

At the stand scale, clearance of mature forest is hypothesised to result in a loss of structural diversity, including a reduced abundance of hollow logs and tree hollows used as den sites by spotted-tailed quolls and their prey, and lowered prey population densities. At the landscape scale, fragmentation of formerly contiguous habitat may result in population isolation and subsequent population decline.

In both a report to the Regional Forest Agreement, and the Spotted-tailed Quoll Draft National Recovery Plan, it has been stated that a lack of understanding of the impacts of silvicultural practices on the species is a significant knowledge gap preventing its effective conservation management.

spotted-tailed quoll

Photo: Dean Heinze, DPIW

The objective of my study is to investigate the ecology of the Tasmanian spotted-tailed quoll in landscapes subject to production forestry. To do this, I will examine the relationship between spotted-tailed quoll resource availability and individual fitness, population abundance, and population genetic structure. The results of this research will increase our understanding of the habitat features critical to persistence of the spotted-tailed quoll at both local and landscape scales. It is hoped that this information will assist land managers to refine and implement guidelines and prescriptions to minimise the impacts of forestry and other land management practices on the Tasmanian spotted-tailed quoll. Results of this research project are also expected to contribute to national spotted-tailed quoll recovery efforts.

I completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science at Flinders University, South Australia, in 2003. I subsequently spent a few years working for Forestry South Australia and the Department of Environment and Heritage. In 2006 I took on an honours project at Monash University, investigating the population genetics of the yellow-footed antechinus, under the supervision of Dr Paul Sunnucks and Dr Andrea Taylor.

A position as Scientific Officer with the Department of Primary Industries and Water’s Fox Eradication Program brought me to Tasmania in 2007. When I read about what is now my PhD project, it immediately appealed to me, as it would allow me to combine my interests in using field and molecular ecology methods and to communicate with a wide range of stakeholders to work towards achieving applied conservation outcomes.

I am supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award and a Dr Joan Woodberry Postgraduate Fellowship. This project is funded by grants from the Holsworth Wildlife Research Trust, Forest Practices Authority, the CRC for Forestry, and the Ecological Society of Australia.

My supervisors are Dr Sarah Munks (Forest Practices Authority), Dr Clare Hawkins (Threatened Species Section, Department of Primary Industry and Water), Dr Menna Jones and Prof. Hamish McCallum (University of Tasmania).