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Home range of the squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) in a network of remnant linear habitats

journal contribution
posted on 2003-01-01, 00:00 authored by Rodney van der Ree, Andrew Bennett
Linear strips of natural or semi-natural vegetation are a characteristic feature of rural landscapes throughout the world. Their value for the conservation of fauna in heavily modified landscapes depends on the response of species to the linear shape of the habitat, and the pressures this imposes on population processes and spatial organization. In south-eastern Australia, woodland habitats occupied by the squirrel glider Petaurus norfolcensis, a threatened species of arboreal marsupial, have been preferentially cleared for agriculture leaving only remnants within cleared farmland. In this study, the home range of P. norfolcensis was investigated by radio-tracking 40 gliders within a highly modified landscape where the majority (83%) of remaining wooded habitat occurs as a network of linear strips along roadsides and streams. Individuals were tracked for one to four seasons, resulting in the collection of 4213 independent locational 'fixes'. All fixes of animals were from remnant woodland. Home ranges were elongated and linear, primarily determined by the shape and arrangement of woodland habitat. Seasonal home ranges were small (mean of 1.4–2.8 ha) and ranged between 320 and 840 m long. Small patches of trees in farmland adjacent to the linear habitats were also extensively used. Despite the highly modified landscape structure, home ranges of P. norfolcensis in the linear network were smaller than those estimated from other studies of this species in continuous habitat. The apparent high quality of the linear habitats is attributed to the density of large old trees, which provide foraging and breeding resources, and the productivity of the environment. Linear landscape elements may have a valuable conservation function where they provide resident habitat or enhance landscape connectivity, but their long-term viability is vulnerable to disturbance.

History

Journal

Journal of zoology

Volume

259

Issue

4

Pagination

327 - 336

Publisher

Zoological Society of London

Location

London, England

ISSN

0952-8369

eISSN

1469-7998

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2003, The Zoological Society of London

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