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The Use of Corridors by Mammals in Fragmented Australian Eucalypt Forests

SHARON J. DOWNES, KATHRINE A. HANDASYDE, AND MARK A. ELGAR

Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia

 

Abstract: We used a replicated sampling program to examine the use of roadside corridors as habitat by na­tive mammals. Our procedure compared the abundance and diversity of mammals in remnant forest, pas­ture, and two types of roadside corridor. Fixed transects were established in these four habitat types at six rep­licate sites. Spotlight, live-trap, and daytime observation surveys were used as census techniques. Few mammals were detected in pasture, and spotlighting revealed a higher total density of mammals in corridors than in forests, indicating corridors provide important habitat. Nevertheless, the number of species using cor­ridors distant to forest was less than that in the corridors close to forest and the forest patches. Different spe­cies did not utilise corridors in the same way. We also found intraspecific differences in habitat use by one spe­cies of small mammal (Antechinus stuartii), which may have implications for the value of corridors to this species. Specifically, there was a higher proportion of males, and individuals of both sexes had lower body weight in corridors than in forests. Our study demonstrates that corridors can provide useful habitat for mam­malian assemblages, but may not provide a complete solution to the problem of landscape fragmentation.