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Correlates of Recent Declines of Rodents in Northern and Southern Australia: Habitat Structure Is Critical

Lawes, Michael J., Fisher, Diana O., Johnson, Chris N., Blomberg, Simon P., Frank, Anke S.K., Fritz, Susanne A., McCallum, Hamish, VanDerWal, Jeremy, Abbott, Brett N., Legge, Sarah, Letnic, Michael I., Thomas, Colette R., Thurgate, Nikki, Fisher, Alaric, Gordon, Iain J. and Kutt, Alex (2015). Correlates of Recent Declines of Rodents in Northern and Southern Australia: Habitat Structure Is Critical. PLoS One,10(6 - Article No. e0130626).

Document type: Journal Article
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ARC Grant No. LP1001000033
DP0773920
FT110100191
DP110103069
FT110100057
IRMA ID 75039815xPUB942
Title Correlates of Recent Declines of Rodents in Northern and Southern Australia: Habitat Structure Is Critical
Author Lawes, Michael J.
Fisher, Diana O.
Johnson, Chris N.
Blomberg, Simon P.
Frank, Anke S.K.
Fritz, Susanne A.
McCallum, Hamish
VanDerWal, Jeremy
Abbott, Brett N.
Legge, Sarah
Letnic, Michael I.
Thomas, Colette R.
Thurgate, Nikki
Fisher, Alaric
Gordon, Iain J.
Kutt, Alex
Journal Name PLoS One
Publication Date 2015
Volume Number 10
Issue Number 6 - Article No. e0130626
ISSN 1932-6203   (check CDU catalogue  open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84938349222
Total Pages 17
Place of Publication United States of America
Publisher Public Library of Science
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Australia has experienced dramatic declines and extinctions of its native rodent species over the last 200 years, particularly in southern Australia. In the tropical savanna of northern Australia significant declines have occurred only in recent decades. The later onset of these declines suggests that the causes may differ from earlier declines in the south. We examine potential regional effects (northern versus southern Australia) on biological and ecological correlates of range decline in Australian rodents. We demonstrate that rodent declines have been greater in the south than in the tropical north, are strongly influenced by phylogeny, and are consistently greater for species inhabiting relatively open or sparsely vegetated habitat. Unlike in marsupials, where some species have much larger body size than rodents, body mass was not an important predictor of decline in rodents. All Australian rodent species are within the prey-size range of cats (throughout the continent) and red foxes (in the south). Contrary to the hypothesis that mammal declines are related directly to ecosystem productivity (annual rainfall), our results are consistent with the hypothesis that disturbances such as fire and grazing, which occur in non-rainforest habitats and remove cover used by rodents for shelter, nesting and foraging, increase predation risk. We agree with calls to introduce conservation management that limits the size and intensity of fires, increases fire patchiness and reduces grazing impacts at ecological scales appropriate for rodents. Controlling feral predators, even creating predator-free reserves in relatively sparsely-vegetated habitats, is urgently required to ensure the survival of rodent species, particularly in northern Australia where declines are not yet as severe as those in the south.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0130626   (check subscription with CDU E-Gateway service for CDU Staff and Students  check subscription with CDU E-Gateway in new window)
Additional Notes This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Description for Link Link to CC Attribution 4.0 License
URL https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/au


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