Author Identifiers

Michael Thomas Main
ORCID: 0000-0002-8924-2625

Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (Biological Sciences)

School

School of Science

First Advisor

Dr David Blake

Second Advisor

Dr Rob Davis

Third Advisor

Dr Harriet Mills

Abstract

I attempted to track a population of urban foxes in Kings Park, but due to collar failure, only one collar was retrieved. The GPS telemetry data from this fox produced home range estimates for minimum convex polygon (MCP) and kernel density (KD) of 0.302 km² and 0.331 km², respectively. The fox was predominantly active at night, with a ten-fold increase in movement during nocturnal periods when compared to daytime movements. Roads and man-made tracks were important for facilitating movement of the fox through its home range, with almost 97% of location fixes recorded within 100m of these features. The fox showed a preference for parrot bush Banksia sessilis shrubland and disturbed areas containing exotic weeds and revegetation, while avoiding woodlands and open spaces.

Monitoring programs aimed at assessing the abundance of invasive species, as well as the severity of their impacts to the environment, are crucial for designing and implementing effective control strategies. I investigated the relative occupancy and diet of foxes at the local scale. Thirty one fox scats taken from two urban reserves revealed that medium-sized mammals, particularly brush-tailed possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and quenda (Isoodon fusciventer), and black rats (Rattus rattus) comprised a large proportion of fox diet. Fruits and seeds, predominantly those produced by the Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla), also contributed to a large portion of the diet of foxes. I used 21 motion cameras deployed across 10 monitoring sites to estimate fox occupancy within Kings Park. Seasonality had a significant influence on probability of occupancy and detection for foxes inhabiting Kings Park, with the highest rates of detection seen during the summer months (December-February). This spike in detections is consistent with the timing of dispersing juveniles, which are likely to be immigrating into the area in search of a suitable home range.

Improving the effectiveness of conservation strategies through collaborative research is a key outcome of the Kings Park and Botanic Gardens Management Plan 2014-2019 strategic framework and implementing control measures for pest animals is a priority target for both this plan and the Bold Park Management Plan 2011-2016. Numerous methods have been used to control and/or mitigate their impacts within Australia, however, the success rates of these strategies vary. With the information gained from this investigation, it is my hope that future fox monitoring and control programs can be improved within the reserves and surrounding land uses.

Access Note

The following are not includedin the only version of the thesis:

  • Chapter 2: Human impact overrides bioclimatic drivers of red fox home range size globally.
  • Appendix 1- Data sources used in the global analysis of fox home range sizes
  • Appendix 2- Additional results for the global analysis of fox home range sizes

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