The para grass city, where the grass is green and the snakes are pretty: the ecology of Herpetofauna in an invaded wetland

Pearcy, Ashley Grace (2007) The para grass city, where the grass is green and the snakes are pretty: the ecology of Herpetofauna in an invaded wetland. Masters (Research) thesis, James Cook University.

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Wetlands are susceptible to invasion by both flora and fauna due to their availability of differing habitat. This induces the enactment of treatments either for prevention or management of introduced species. Many invasive management practices are done with a focus on single taxa, especially with concern to wetlands. Wetlands offer a dynamic habitat for several species, and being aware of how these habitats are used by all species can offer a beneficial knowledge base for those enacting management techniques to ensure minimal consequences. This thesis investigated the influence of invasive species on herpetofauna in a wetland. The majority of this study focused on habitat use and the effects of the para grass Urochloa mutica. By trapping along the ecotone gradient, abundance and location were used to determine primary habitat. It is concluded that the majority of herpetofauna species are more abundant in the woodland than in the margin or floodplain. This benefits the management treatments done to the floodplain by alleviating loss through the confirmation of larger populations in adjacent woodlands. A few species, however, associated mostly with the floodplain were identified such as Lampropholis delicata and Litoria fallax. These species could face greater consequences from management techniques.

QPWS/CSIRO are experimenting with management techniques to control the spread of the invasive para grass. The effect of these treatments (burning and grazing) on the keelback snake (Tropidonophis mairii) during the wet season was studied by setting up aquatic traps in the floodplain in paddocks each with a different para grass treatment. The results found that snakes are more abundant in undisturbed, or control sites. This presents questions concerning the consequences of the weed vs. those of the management practice.

A final study was done on the relation between Tropidonophis mairii and cane toads Bufo marinus, finding that despite the availability of cane toads, keelbacks selectively avoid them in their diet. Keelbacks are known to consume the toxic cane toad, but this defined preference for other individuals, shows that they are not a viable biological control method for the quickly expanding cane toad population.

Item ID: 29566
Item Type: Thesis (Masters (Research))
Keywords: Townsville Common; wetlands; invasive species management; management strategies; impacts of control methods; herpetofauna behaviour
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2013 05:01
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050199 Ecological Applications not elsewhere classified @ 33%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 34%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 50%
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