Applying an animal-centric approach to restoration for wildlife

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Menna Jones, Glen Bain, Kirsty Dixon, Riana Gardner, Rowena Hamer, Kirstin Proft, Chris Burridge, Chris Johnson, Neil Davidson

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Habitat loss and fragmentation are leading causes of biodiversity decline. To restore landscapes that support native animals requires moving beyond the traditional focus on vegetation to grounding restoration activities in mechanistic knowledge of the local and landscape elements that different species require. We developed an animal-centric approach to ecological restoration and applied this to native mammals and birds in the Tasmanian Midlands, Australia’s oldest and most fragmented European agricultural region. Greening Australia is planting biodiversity corridors, connecting and restoring woodland across the region. We used species-appropriate technologies to assess the decisions made by individual animals to find food and shelter and to disperse across this fragmented landscape, and linked these, together with patterns of occupancy, across multiple spatial and temporal scales. We focussed on a native (Spotted-tailed Quoll Dasyurus maculatus) and an invasive (Feral Cat Felis catus) carnivore, a woodland-specialist herbivore (Eastern Bettong Bettongia gaimardi), microbats and woodland birds including the native-invasive Noisy Miner. Our results, which show intense predatory and competitive pressure of Feral Cats and Noisy Miners on native fauna, demonstrate the significance of structural complexity of restored vegetation for supporting the recolonisation and persistence of native fauna and evoke innovative approaches in plantings and artificial refuges to reduce habitat suitability for Noisy Miners and predatory impacts of Feral Cats. At large landscape-scale, we demonstrate the importance of retaining small habitat elements, including ancient paddock trees, pivot irrigation corners and small, degraded remnants, in facilitating occupancy and dispersal and therefore persistence of wild animals across this agricultural region.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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