Temporal fluctuations in yellow-footed rock-wallaby activity in western Queensland

Taylor, Mattea (2018) Temporal fluctuations in yellow-footed rock-wallaby activity in western Queensland. Honours thesis, University of Southern Queensland. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Cluster fencing is a recent innovation in largescale grazing operations in western Queensland, where predation and competition from native and feral species (dingoes, pigs and kangaroos) significantly impact the profitability of livestock enterprises. The main purpose of these fences is to reduce predation pressure on, and pasture competition with, domestic livestock. However, other native species might potentially be positively or negatively impacted by the fence. Sightings of yellow-footed rock-wallaby (YFRW) Petrogale xanthopus colonies on properties within a cluster fence area and adjacent properties near Quilpie raise questions about the potential impact of such fences and associated pest control on this and other native species. Survival of the threatened YFRW is primarily impacted by resource availability, intra- and interspecific competition (especially from feral goats) and predation by foxes.
This project aimed to establish baseline data for YFRW temporal activity and behaviour at sites inside and outside a cluster-fenced site in western Queensland through the use of in situ camera traps and to explore some of the potential causes for any observed differences between treatments or sites. This fence’s construction finished in April 2017 so it was hypothesised that there would be no difference in YFRW temporal activity between treatments. It was also hypothesised that YFRW diel activity and behaviour would correlate with dingo and goat activity. Additionally, patterns in diel activity and behaviour of YFRW, and predators and competitors, were explored.
A total of 17 cameras were placed in areas where YFRW presence was evident (11 at the 3 sites inside the fence and 6 at the 3 sites outside the fence). These ‘heat in motion’ cameras took 75,607 photos during the 253-day study period, including 6176 photos of YFRW. Data, including absence, presence and number of any animals and additional behaviour and demographic information for YFRW were recorded, along with camera and site information. YFRW behaviours observed were recorded in four broad categories of resting, foraging, hopping and other. Dingoes were the only predator recorded and were only recorded at three of the six sites but YFRW and feral goats were recorded at every site. YFRW and goat activity trends and diel activity patterns and behaviour were examined and compared. While two-tailed t-tests found YFRW activity did not differ between treatments, goat activity was significantly higher inside the fence and fluctuated greatly during the study period. Additionally, there was variation in diel activity and behaviour patterns for YFRW and goats but within-treatment variation appeared to be much greater than between-treatment variation, suggesting pooling the data from sites to consider effects of the fence was not useful. GLMs found mixed relationships between goat diel activity and YFRW diel activity and behaviour within each treatment and at most sites. This suggested other factors were also involved in influencing YFRW activity and behaviour, potentially including intraspecific competition, habitat type and land-use history, which were not assessed in this study. It was concluded that there was no difference in YFRW activity between treatments and the influences of goats on YFRW activity and behaviour was unable to be detected due to sample sizes and other constraints. This study has established that YFRW were present inside and outside the Quilpie cluster fence at the time the fence was constructed, at similar levels of activity inside and outside the fence. How this changes in the future as the fence effect and pest control become established will help pinpoint and highlight issues of conservation concern with this and other threatened species on grazing lands.


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Item Type: Thesis (Non-Research) (Honours)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Environment and Sustainability) thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences
Supervisors: Allen, Benjamin; Reardon-Smith, Kathryn
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2018 06:24
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2018 02:29
Uncontrolled Keywords: yellow-footed rock wallabies
Fields of Research : 06 Biological Sciences > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960804 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/35048

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