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Straddling the divide: den use by brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in urban parklands

Carthew, Susan M., Yanez, Beiha-Malen and Ruykys, Laura (2015). Straddling the divide: den use by brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in urban parklands. Urban Ecosystems,18(2):525-538.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 84376995xPUB123
Title Straddling the divide: den use by brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in urban parklands
Author Carthew, Susan M.
Yanez, Beiha-Malen
Ruykys, Laura
Journal Name Urban Ecosystems
Publication Date 2015
Volume Number 18
Issue Number 2
ISSN 1083-8155   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84929175167
Start Page 525
End Page 538
Total Pages 14
Place of Publication United States of America
Publisher Springer New York LLC
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract In Australia, brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) are declining in natural habitats but have adapted to urban environments so readily that some human residents consider them to be a nuisance. Although this situation represents a conundrum for management, the use of urban habitats by the species remains poorly studied. We conducted our study in six urban parklands, a setting that represents an intermediary between a fully-urban and fully-natural environment. To determine factors that influence the presence of hollows in trees and their use by brushtail possums, physical characteristics of 240 mature trees in six parks in the Adelaide Parklands, South Australia were assessed. To investigate hollow use more comprehensively, 18 possums were radio-tracked. Presence of hollows in trees was a function of tree species and tree size, with hollows formed in both exotic and native species. Tree form and number of hollows were significant predictors of the use of hollow-bearing trees by possums. Use of exotic trees was high, with only 34 % of recorded den trees being native (non-indigenous) species. Radio-tracked individuals were relatively sedentary, with an average daytime denning area of 0.08 ha. While the majority of animals used multiple den sites, all individuals favoured a single den. Use of a variety of anthropogenic structures was high, even when trees were available. On average, sites supported ~1.5 brushtail possums per hollow-bearing tree. A correlation between number of hollows per hectare and possum density (r =0.892, P =0.017) suggests that altering a given area’s density of hollows or anthropogenic structures could influence the density of possums within it.
Keywords Australia
Urban habitat
Urban wildlife
Wildlife management
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