Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering

First Advisor

Dr Alan Needham

Second Advisor

Dr Jackie Courtenay

Abstract

Gilbert's potoroo has been rediscovered 120 years after it was believed to have become extinct. In 1994 the presence of Gilbert's potoroo was confirmed at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, near Albany, and since that time the need for a detailed understanding of the biology and behaviour of the species has become urgent. An understanding of the habitat requirements of the species will aid in its recovery from its present critically endangered status and will act as a guide for future management decisions concerning translocations of new populations into other areas. The present study was conducted at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve in Western Australia in order to determine the microhabitat requirements of the species, with particular reference to vegetation associations and density of canopy cover utilised. The study was conducted on both female and male adult specimens of the nocturnal marsupial species Potomus tridactylus gilbertii Gould. Investigation of microhabitat preferences was undertaken using a modified spool-and-line tracking technique, giving a detailed record of the movement of the animals through the habitat. The habitat within the study area is comprised mainly of dense coastal heath dominated by Melaleuca and Agonis spp. with A/locasuarina spp. emergents. It is fragmented by wet and dry sclerophyll forest along gullies and granite outcrops and large sedgelands dominated by Anarthriaspp. The spool lines were not clearly associated with any particular floristic group or strongly correlated with any particular density of cover. Instead it appeared that animals utilised a range of vegetation ecotones, with dense cover possibly being utilised for diurnal shelter and protection from predators, and more open areas for nocturnal foraging.

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