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Density estimates and relative indices: the current status of macropod populations on Maria Island National Park

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Ingram, J (2009) Density estimates and relative indices: the current status of macropod populations on Maria Island National Park. Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

On Maria Island National Park (NP) Forester Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus),
Bennett's Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus) and Tasmanian Pademelon
(Thylogale billardierii) were introduced due to a past management strategy. This
policy has caused problems from overgrazing on the island due to seasonal
increases in pasture levels, with resulting impacts on animal welfare. The effect of
rainfall on population dynamics and resource availability is well documented,
with macropods particularly affected due to rapid reproduction rates.
Typically, lethal control methods have been used to control population abundance.
Public awareness of animal welfare issues arising from control methods such as
culling, has forced wildlife managers to re-evaluate their use. On Maria Island NP
annual spotlight surveys have been conducted to estimate a population index for
each species. Population estimates are then used to determine if a reduction cull is
required, together with body condition of individual animals and pasture
availability.
Wildlife managers require reliable population estimates to make informed
decisions. This study aims to improve our understanding of population monitoring
by comparing spotlight surveys as population indices, with current line transect
survey density estimates. In addition, historical cull, spotlight and rainfall data
were combined into a model to predict future culling impacts. The model offers a
unique opportunity to establish a management tool for use on any monitored
macropod population that is harvested or culled annually.
Monitoring indicated that line transect methods are effective for Forester
Kangaroo and Bennett's Wallaby, with an improved survey design. Tasmanian
Pademelon had the least probability of detection, but the highest encounter rate
and population index from spotlight counts. Predictions from the growth model
indicate culling annually with a moderate target level was the most efficient
management scenario. Management intervention based on models using time
series data and rainfall may prove to be the most important tool for population
control of macropods in Australia.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2009 the author

Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2014 03:50
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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