Positive edge effects for arboreal marsupials: an assessment of potential mechanisms

Harding, Elaine K., and Gomez, Shirin (2006) Positive edge effects for arboreal marsupials: an assessment of potential mechanisms. Wildlife Research, 33 (2). pp. 121-129.

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In this study we examined the potential for positive edge effects on folivorous arboreal marsupials inhabiting upland rainforest in the Wet Tropics region of far north Queensland, Australia. We predicted that the folivores should have increased densities at edges relative to interior forest 90 m from the edge owing to the following causal factors, either separately or in combination: (a) increased foliar biomass, measured as vertical foliage density; and/or (b) increased abundance of preferred food trees. To test these hypotheses, we conducted surveys of the lemuroid ringtail possum (Hemibelideus lemuroides), the green ringtail possum (Pseudochirops archeri), the Herbert River ringtail possum (Pseudochirulus herbertensis) and the coppery brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula johnstonii) at two remnant rainforest sites with ‘hard’ edges such as roads or pasture. Because arboreal species are often difficult to survey accurately within forests, we utilised pellet counts as an index of the population and compared this to the common survey technique of night spotlighting. Our results indicated that pellet counts, combined over all species, were positively and strongly correlated with spotlighting results. Using pellet counts as a relative index of arboreal folivore populations, we found that edge transects contained a higher abundance of all species combined than did interior transects. Further, total foliage density in the 10–30-m vertical transect was found to be significantly correlated with total pellet counts at edge transects. Total preferred tree species was not significantly different between edge and interior transects. From these results we propose that foliage density, as a surrogate for biomass, is a possible mechanism explaining the higher abundance of arboreal marsupials at the edges of these two highland rainforest sites in north Queensland.

Item ID: 3809
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-5494
Keywords: arboreal marsupials; disturbance; rainforest
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2009 00:22
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 51%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9613 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas > 961306 Remnant Vegetation and Protected Conservation Areas in Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 49%
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