Australian diggers – strong-arm excavators and aerators of Australian landscapes

By Meg Martin. Digging marsupials play an especially important ecological role in Australian ecosystems by helping with soil turnover, nutrient mixing, seed dispersal and increasing breakdown of organic materials. Many of these species are highly specialised diggers – with strong forlimbs and long claws. Historically, the interactions between bones and muscle during behaviour has been…

A Rubbish Diet

By Heather Crawford, Mike Calver and Trish Fleming.  Domestic cats (Felis catus) are one of the most widely distributed and successful carnivores globally. In cities, unowned cats (‘stray’) live in close association with human habitations and can roam across neighbourhoods, commercial areas, parks and bush reserves, hunting wildlife and scavenging food where they can find…

Give an Easter Bilby, because they give back!

By Stuart Dawson.  Easter is upon us, the holy grail of long weekends (especially when so close to ANZAC Day). Every year in Australia we celebrate this time with chocolate bunnies, inadvertently popularising an invasive and destructive species, the European Rabbit. The reason we use rabbits appears to be due to their famously fecund nature,…

Second-hand foraging: endangered red-tails feed research red-caps

Lauren Gilson.  For three months I have been measuring the evaporative water loss of Red-capped parrots and Western Rosellas.  Residents of the mesic (moist climate) habitats around Perth, these species are providing data for a larger exploration of water balance in Australian vertebrates. First I had to catch the birds, which was not easy in…

Can we save flatback turtle nests from foxes?

By John-Michael Stuart.  Murdoch University is part of a joint effort in the State’s north-west to save a population of vulnerable flatback turtles from predation by foxes (see story). Along with Curtin University and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), we have been working with the pastoralist of the remote Mundabullangana Station.  Mundabullangana…

Procrastibaking – 2018 Bake your thesis competition

By John-Michael Stuart, Janine Kuehs and Natasha Tay. So we are not going to sugar-coat it, anyone who has done a PhD will tell you it is always an ongoing challenge to avoid the temptation to procrastinate and stay on track with your research. Especially this time of year when research fatigue sets in and…

Follow the road – bilbies and cats use access tracks

By Stuart Dawson.  As humans, we follow linear clearings all day.  Every road, footpath, and hallway is a clearly defined, linear opening that allows us to move easily, quickly, and (excluding some beautiful European cities) reduces the likelihood of becoming lost. When these roads and tracks are within undisturbed vegetation, such as across much of…

Secrets of the noodji (native ash-grey mouse)

By Kiarrah Smith.  Despite being subject to the greatest rate of Australian mammal species extinction over recent times, native rodents are a relatively poorly studied group. The risk of rapid decline is particularly valid for species considered ‘least concern’, but for which we have very little understanding of their biology or habitat requirements. One such…

Runways and fancy feet – tracking escape paths of marsupials

By Natasha Tay.  Ever thought you’d spend two weeks in the bush giving bettongs rave party feet and putting them on a runway for science? I travelled to Arid Recovery in South Australia this past May to do exactly that. My PhD investigates anti-predator behaviour in marsupials, focussing on how anatomy affects their physical ability…

Bobtails and dugites – reptiles in the city

By Ashleigh Wolfe.  The study of urban ecology is a rising topic within the ecological research community, and as urban sprawl increases across the globe, and more and more people are moving to urbanised areas, the need to understand how we as humans impact wildlife is growing. Urbanisation presents novel challenges for wildlife in many…

Results are in! Highlights from backyard bandicoot spy-cams

By Emily Webster and Janine Kuehs.  Many lucky residents of Mandurah and surrounds will have seen or heard about the bandicoot also known as quenda. You might even be proud to share your backyard with a quenda or two. But quenda areimpacted by expanding urban development fragmenting their habitat, and the presence of introduced predators…