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Numbat nirvana: the conservation ecology of the endangered numbat Myrmecobius fasciatus (Marsupialia: Myrmecobiidae) reintroduced to Scotia and Yookamurra Sanctuaries, Australia

Hayward, M.W. and Poh, A.S.L. and Cathcart, J. and Churcher, C. and Bentley, J. and Herman, K. and Kemp, L. and Riessen, N. and Scully, P. and Dion, C.H. and Legge, S. and Carter, A. and Gibb, H. and Friend, J.A. (2015) Numbat nirvana: the conservation ecology of the endangered numbat Myrmecobius fasciatus (Marsupialia: Myrmecobiidae) reintroduced to Scotia and Yookamurra Sanctuaries, Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology. DOI: 10.1071/ZO15028

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Abstract

Despite a vigorous reintroduction program between 1985 and 2010, numbat populations in Western Australia are either static or declining. This study aimed to document the population ecology of numbats at two sites that are going against this trend: Scotia Sanctuary in far western New South Wales and Yookamurra Sanctuary in the riverland of South Australia. Scotia (64,659 ha) and Yookamurra (5,026 ha) are conservation reserves owned and managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and where numbats were reintroduced in 1999 and 1993 respectively. Both sites have large conservation fence protected introduced species-free areas where there are no cats Felis catus or red foxes Vulpes vulpes. Numbats were sourced from both wild and captive populations. From small founder populations, the Scotia numbats are now estimated to number 169 (113â��225) and 44 at Yookamurra. Radio collared individuals at Scotia were active between 13 and 31oC. Females had home ranges of 28.3 �± 6.8 ha and males 96.6 �± 18.2 ha, which leads to an estimated sustainable population or carrying capacity of 413â��502 at Scotia. Captive bred animals from Perth Zoo had a high mortality rate upon reintroduction at Scotia due to raptor predation and starvation. The habitat preferences for mallee with a shrub understory appear to be driven by termite availability, and other reintroduced ecosystem engineers appear to have been facilitators by creating new refuge burrows for numbats. This study shows that numbats can be successfully reintroduced into areas of their former range if protected from introduced predators, and illustrates the difficulties in monitoring such cryptic species.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Research Publications
Departments: College of Natural Sciences > School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2015 03:28
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2015 03:31
ISSN: 0004-959X
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/5457
Identification Number: DOI: 10.1071/ZO15028
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
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