Backyard Bandicoots

Welcome to the Backyard Bandicoots website describing our research on bandicoots with the City of Mandurah. This is a collaborative project between Murdoch University researchers, City of Mandurah personnel, and local residents.

There are many species of bandicoot in Australia.  The southwest subspecies of southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon fusciventer) is sufficiently different from the eastern states subspecies (Westerman et al. 2012) to warrant being classified a species on its own (Travouillon & Phillips, 2018).  We therefore call our southern brown bandicoots quenda (the local Noongar word).

Bandicoots live in your local remnant bushland, and might even live in your backyard. Urban life can be challenging; urban bandicoots are at risk from habitat loss, being attacked by pet dogs and cats, and being hit by cars. There are a few simple things you can do to help.

  • Look after your local bushland. Bandicoots rely on healthy bushland for food and protection. Join your local friends group and attend community planting events.
  • Keep your dog on a lead unless you are in a designated off-lead area. When dogs run through the bush they leave their scent behind, and bandicoots seem to avoid these areas. Remember, even if your dog would never attack a bandicoot, their presence can still have a negative impact on bandicoots in the bush.
  • Keep your cat confined to your property. Cat runs are becoming very popular, and allow your cat to experience outdoor life in a way that keeps both your cat and your local wildlife safe.
  • Don’t offer human food to bandicoots. Human food is not healthy for quenda and can make them overweight, sick, and dependent on humans. Check out the Healthy Wildlife Healthy Lives website for more information.
  • Be mindful of wildlife when driving. Roads are a crucial part of the suburbs, but can be a real problem for wildlife.
bandicoot-digging-narelle
A southern-brown bandicoot (Isoodon fusciventer), also known as a quenda.

How do quenda use the urban landscape?

In order to conserve bandicoots in urban areas, we need to know more about how they use the urban landscape, including bushland reserves, corridors, and front and back gardens. To do this, we attached GPS trackers to quenda so we can track their movement over time. We also set up motion-sensor cameras in bushland and in people’s gardens, to capture visits by quenda (and other animals like cats and foxes).

Quenda-friendly gardens

Between April and September 2017, our research team visited more than 70 residential gardens in Mandurah and surrounds, seeking to discover whether particular characteristics of certain gardens made them more attractive to quenda visitors. Preliminary results, based on 37 properties, were presented at the International Mammalogical Congress in July 2017. Data analysis continues for the remaining gardens.

A huge thank you to all the participants who welcomed us into their gardens and their homes – we couldn’t do this without you!

Can quenda poo help plants grow?

In a healthy ecosystem, there are complex ecological interactions between plants, digging mammals such as the quenda (southern brown bandicoot), and fungi.

Quenda eat underground fungi and pass spores in their scats (poo). This helps to disperse fungi and to encourage symbiotic relationships (called mycorrhizae) between fungi and tree roots. Mycorrhizal associations help the host plant to access water and nutrients and help keep trees healthy.

interrelationships
There are important ecological relationships between bandicoots (e.g. quenda in Western Australia), fungi, and plants.

In February 2017, we added quenda poo (containing fungi spores) to tuart tree seedlings, to examine whether this would increase symbiotic relationships and improve the growth and survival of these seedlings, which were planted in the field in June 2017. Monitoring of growth and survival has been ongoing.

2017-01-11-11-30-32

Up close and personal with quenda poo!

See wWEB BLOGS on this topic

Westerman, M., Kear, B.P., Aplin, K., Meredith, R.W., Emerling, C. & Springer, M.S. (2012) Phylogenetic relationships of living and recently extinct bandicoots based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 62, 97-108.

Travouillon, K. J., & Phillips, M. J. (2018). Total evidence analysis of the phylogenetic relationships of bandicoots and bilbies (Marsupialia: Peramelemorphia): reassessment of two species and description of a new species. Zootaxa, 4378(2), 224-256.

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