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Hollows’ victories!

Three publications on small and medium-sized hollow-using mammals in Tasmanian production forest areas have been published or are ‘in press’.

Erin Flynn has had two papers from her PhD thesis accepted for publication. The first paper in Wildlife Research reports on whether or not differences in forest type and disturbance history were reflected in small-medium mammal communities found in Tasmania’s production forests. In general, the small-medium mammals did not appear to be significantly affected by forest harvesting in the medium-term. Although past harvesting altered the abundance of some habitat features (e.g., canopy cover, basal area of trees, and tree hollow availability) the availability of such features in the surrounding landscape may mitigate the potential effects on the species for whom such habitat features are important.  The second paper published in Journal of Mammalogy reports on whether differences in forest type and disturbance influence key reproductive traits of an arboreal marsupial, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). Although the study found that forest type and disturbance can influence demography and breeding frequency in the brushtail possum populations, these population-level differences were not found to be linked to variations in reproductive traits. The paper concludes that the brushtail possum is a physiologically resilient species, and the ability of individual females to reproduce successfully is relatively insensitive to forest type or habitat disturbance.

Erin will be taking time off from her zoo job as curator of mammals in the mid-west of the USA, to return to Tasmania in December to graduate.

Meanwhile, Lisa Cawthen’s honours project and subsequent work with the Forest Practices Authority is in press (and available on line) in Wildlife Research. The paper reports on the use of hollow-bearing trees retained in harvested and unharvested forest as den sites by the Tasmanian common brushtail possum.  In particular, Lisa examined the distribution and types of hollow-bearing trees used as den sites and whether or not use in harvested sites was influenced by time since harvest. Hollow-bearing trees retained within harvest areas do provide habitat for hollow dependent fauna such as the Common brushtail possum and enable recolonisation of harvested areas in the medium term.  However, in the short term these trees might not be used and hollow-bearing trees retained in the surrounding landscape are important for providing refuge as the harvested area regenerates.

Recent publications:
Cawthen L and Munks S (in press) The use of hollow-bearing trees retained in multi-aged regenerating production forest by the Tasmanian common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula fulginosus).  Wildlife Researchhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR10125

Flynn EM, Jones SM, Jones ME, Jordan GJ, Munks SA (2011) Characteristics of mammal communities in Tasmanian forests: exploring the influence of forest type and disturbance history.  Wildlife Research 38(1): 13-29. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR10025]

Flynn EM, SA Munks, and SM Jones (2011)  Influences of forest type and disturbance on reproduction of the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). Journal of Mammalogy 92(5):1050-1059. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1644/10-MAMM-A-277.1]

BIOBUZZ ISSUE FIFTEEN, DECEMBER 2011