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Open AccessArticle

Elucidating Patterns in the Occurrence of Threatened Ground-Dwelling Marsupials Using Camera-Traps

Office of Environment and Heritage, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Nature Conservation Section, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620, Australia
School of Science, University of New South Wales, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
NSW Department of Primary Industries, Vertebrate Pest Research Unit, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620, Australia
Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32603, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(11), 913;
Received: 6 September 2019 / Revised: 17 October 2019 / Accepted: 31 October 2019 / Published: 3 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Camera Trap Technology in Field Research)
Being able to effectively monitor the continued plight of highly vulnerable animals against management efforts over time is critical for their conservation. In south-eastern New South Wales, Australia, we used a camera trapping array to collect baseline information about patterns of occurrence of three threatened native ground-dwelling marsupials of conservation interest: the long-nosed bandicoot (Perameles nasuta), long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus) and southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus). Over a four-year period, detections of the two bandicoots were more erratic and less predictable than that of the potoroo, resulting in higher uncertainty about occupancy estimates and adequacy of sampling effort. The detection probability of each bandicoot species and that of the potoroo differed variously with structural complexity of vegetation. Detection probability of the southern brown bandicoot was highest where ground cover was most dense and shrub cover most open. The reverse pattern was found for the long-nosed bandicoot. Finally, the detection probability of the long-nosed potoroo was highest where ground and shrub cover was densest. Future camera trapping monitoring efforts need to take better account of these nuances and be flexible to including additional sampling for at least the two bandicoots. In short, when it comes to monitoring approach, one size doesn’t fit all.
Establishing trends in endangered fauna against management efforts is a key but often challenging enterprise. Camera-traps offer a new and literal window into monitoring many different mammalian species. Getting it right demands seeking baseline information about how often target species interact with these devices, prior to setting a long-term monitoring strategy. We used a camera-trap array to collect detection data on three species of threatened ground-dwelling marsupials in south-eastern mainland Australia. Over a four-year period, occupancy estimates for two species of bandicoot (southern brown bandicoot Isoodon obesulus and long-nosed bandicoot Perameles nasuta) and a single species of rat-kangaroo (long-nosed potoroo Potorous tridatylus) were generated. These estimates were variously robust depending on visitation history, but nevertheless indicated persistence of these rare and otherwise under threat species. Detection probability for each species differed between study areas, type of management and with complexity of ground and shrub vegetation cover. The relationship between detection and vegetation structure dictated that survey effort was only robust where conditions were optimal for a given species. Outside of that further survey effort would be required to have confidence in survey outcome. In the future this would demand a different sampling strategy, be that through lengthening survey time or adding additional camera units at sites. View Full-Text
Keywords: bandicoot; camera-traps; detection; habitat; mammal; marsupial; monitoring; occupancy; potoroo; rat-kangaroo; threatened bandicoot; camera-traps; detection; habitat; mammal; marsupial; monitoring; occupancy; potoroo; rat-kangaroo; threatened
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Claridge, A.W.; Paull, D.J.; Welbourne, D.J. Elucidating Patterns in the Occurrence of Threatened Ground-Dwelling Marsupials Using Camera-Traps. Animals 2019, 9, 913.

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