Earlier this year the TSR Hub initiated an ambitious project to determine how a small endangered native marsupial, the Kangaroo Island dunnart, responds
when one of its prime threats, predation by feral cats, is controlled or removed. The idea, of course, is to secure a future for the dunnart but in
doing so it’s hoped there’s a whole lot more we can learn about saving threatened species. Dr Rosemary Hohnen from Charles Darwin University
is leading the work and explains here what’s involved.
Feral cats are a key cause of biodiversity loss in Australia and overseas. Across Australia there are thought to be between 2.1 and 6.3 million feral cats and they have been implicated in the decline and extinction of some 20 mammal species. Many threatened Australian mammal species now only persist in fenced ‘feral-free’ exclosures or offshore islands. The national Threatened Species Strategy has made tackling feral cats a core priority and particularly on biodiversity rich offshore islands.
Top image: Coastal heath on Kangaroo Island. Researchers and managers from multiple groups came together earlier this year to discuss progress on the cat eradication project and how best to go about monitoring the island’s threatened species. Image: Rosemary Hohnen.
Many landscapes in Australia are fire-prone, and increasingly so. Altered fire regimes can have a serious negative impact on threatened plant species and ecological communities. A Threatened Species Recovery Hub project is working to better understand the effects of different fire regimes on threatened flora in order to improve fire management strategies and conservation outcomes.
Almost a quarter of Australia’s possums and gliders are listed as threatened under Australian environmental law, and many more are showing signs of decline. Dr Rochelle Steven from The University of Queensland believes people in the community can do a lot to support conservation, especially in urban areas.
The detection and monitoring of threatened species have been a strong area of research in the National Environmental Science Program and also the two national environmental research programs which preceded it. Hub Director Professor Brendan Wintle takes a look at what we’ve been achieving and why it is so important to the conservation of Australia’s threatened species.
In 2009, the Christmas Island blue-tailed skink and Lister’s gecko were headed for imminent extinction. Parks Australia acted quickly to collect remaining wild individuals in order to establish captive breeding programs on Christmas Island and at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, which have been highly successful. A Threatened Species Recovery Hub project team is working closely with Parks Australia to help secure a future for the two lizards beyond captivity.
The silver-headed antechinus and black-tailed dusky antechinus are carnivorous marsupials found in high-elevation forests in parts of central-eastern and south-eastern Queensland. They were only described in the past six years, but they are already listed as Endangered. Knowing where they occur is essential for effective conservation, but current distribution knowledge is patchy. To address this, PhD candidate Stephane Batista in partnership with the Queensland Herbarium and Queensland Department of Environment and Science is modelling the habitat where these threatened species are likely to occur, and is using detection dogs to rapidly survey these sites.