Evaluating the status of species using Indigenous knowledge: novel evidence for major native mammal declines in northern Australia

Ziembicki, M.R., Woinarski, J.C.Z., and Mackey, B. (2013) Evaluating the status of species using Indigenous knowledge: novel evidence for major native mammal declines in northern Australia. Biological Conservation, 157. pp. 78-92.

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Abstract

A small series of recent monitoring studies has reported major declines for many native mammal species in localised regions in northern Australia. However, the broader spatial context of these studies is uncertain. This study aims to assess the extent and timing of change in mammal status across a broad area of northern Australia (the monsoonal tropics of the Northern Territory). Indigenous information about terrestrial native mammal fauna (excluding bats) was compiled from a large series of interviews conducted across Indigenous communities. A collection of mammal skins was used to help facilitate discussions and verify identifications. The resulting information was analysed with non-parametric statistics to test for changes in mammal status across different time periods, between different regions, and between different groups of mammal species. Declines were reported as extending from the earliest memory of Indigenous participants, but the rate of decline has increased recently. These changes were reported across all five regions within the broad study area and were greater for "critical weight range" species than for other species. Indigenous participants suggested several factors were associated with the changing status of species. The study's results reveal a pattern of widespread decline in the mammal fauna of the monsoonal tropics of northern Australia, thereby corroborating the conclusions of recent more local wildlife monitoring studies. The study also demonstrates the value and capability of Indigenous ecological knowledge to complement and corroborate more intensive and local scientific studies. The results reinforce concern for the conservation status of the mammal fauna of northern Australia.

Item ID: 21655
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2917
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Northern Territory Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport
Projects and Grants: ARC Linkage grant LP0455163
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2015 03:25
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Knowledge @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 10%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 80%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 20%
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