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Decline and likely extinction of a northern Australian native rodent, the Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat Conilurus penicillatus

Firth, Ronald S. C., Brook, Barry W., Woinarski, John C. W. and Fordham, Damien A. (2010). Decline and likely extinction of a northern Australian native rodent, the Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat Conilurus penicillatus. Biological Conservation,143(5):1193-1201.

Document type: Journal Article

IRMA ID 81704288xPUB99
Title Decline and likely extinction of a northern Australian native rodent, the Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat Conilurus penicillatus
Author Firth, Ronald S. C.
Brook, Barry W.
Woinarski, John C. W.
Fordham, Damien A.
Journal Name Biological Conservation
Publication Date 2010
Volume Number 143
Issue Number 5
ISSN 0006-3207   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-77951256540
Start Page 1193
End Page 1201
Total Pages 9
Place of Publication Amsterdam
Publisher Elsevier BV
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Contemporary fire patterns are considered the most likely cause for regional population decline amongst small to medium mammals in northern tropical Australia. Here we assess the extinction risk faced by a vulnerable north Australian native rodent, the Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat Conilurus penicillatus in relation to fire frequency. This species has recently suffered a significant contraction in range. We provide the first quantitative evidence to demonstrate the immediate threat destructive wildfires and regular annual fire pose to the long-term population persistence of C. penicillatus. We show that late-dry season fires cause a reduction in both juvenile and adult survival probabilities. However, abundance declined at the unburnt as well as a frequently burnt site, suggesting that fire exclusion alone does not guarantee the species' long-term persistence. Our model projections indicate that the remaining populations of C. penicillatus on the Northern Territory mainland risk extirpation within the next ten years. Conservation requires decisive management action to ameliorate extensive and destructive fires. A multi-faceted management plan needs to focus on restoring a fire management regime which generates a fine-scale mosaic of burnt and unburnt habitat, and the release of captive bred animals into fenced reserves free of exotic predators.
Keywords capture-mark-recapture (CMR)
fire management
population viability analysis (PVA)
survival
threatened species
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2010.02.027   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
 
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