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…

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…

As humans change the world, predators seize the chance to succeed

Published in The Conversation and in Animal Behaviour By Bill Bateman and Trish Fleming.  If you have ever been to a nature reserve in Africa, you may have been lucky enough to see predators on a kill – maybe something spectacular like lions on a giraffe. The chances are you got to see that because…

Wild dog control

A three-year project examining control of wild dogs has been finalised.  The project was made possible by funding from the Royalties for Regions Biosecurity Research and Development Fund BBD RDF14-00034. A summary of our findings on wild dog impacts is available. We surveyed landholders for their views on control of wild dogs.  We have examined…

Advances in Mammalogy in a Changing World #IMC12

By Trish Fleming.  750 mammal experts made the long trip to Perth last week, to discuss breaking research on their favourite furballs at the 12th International Mammal Congress.  There were up to 10 parallel sessions, which made it difficult deciding which talks to attend at any one time – no two attendees would have come…

Is ecotourism good or bad? The answer is never simple…

Bill Bateman & Trish Fleming.  Humans innately like to categorise things.  Perhaps this helps us to compartmentalise and understand the world.  Zoology, and other life sciences, tend not to be so amenable to this; taxonomically and ecologically and physiologically and genetically there is always overlap, there is always some confusion.  The study of behaviour is…

Dead animals offer a treasure trove of data

By Trish Fleming.  Red foxes were introduced into Australia from Europe and have become established over the continent over the last 100 years (Saunders et al. 1995). The red fox has contributed to the extinction of more than 25 Australian mammal species (reviewed by Saunders, Gentle & Dickman 2010, Woinarski et al. 2014). The Red…

A tiny strip of metal…

By Lauren Gilson & Nic Dunlop.  Who would have thought that one tiny strip of metal could convey so much information? It isn’t a microchip; in fact it is not electronic at all. It is a rather low-tech, simple instrument: the metal bird band.  On a fairy tern (Sternula nereis), this band is 5.5 mm…

Remote cameras in your closets?

By Peter Adams. Eventually it happens to all of us, the lab gets cluttered with equipment, space becomes a premium and inevitably you have no other option but to face facts, it’s time for the dreaded lab clean up.  I discovered boxes of old cameras that have sparked off a trip down memory lane.

No water before white man – the story of a watering hole

By Tracey Moore. The definition of rangelands is ‘open country used for grazing and hunting animals’ and/or ‘woodlands, shrublands and grasslands for animals to graze or wander upon’. A total of eighty one percent of Western Australia is rangelands. Some of the rangelands resembles a desert and to run stock on it seems like a…

Are urban ravens really ‘thugs’ and ‘murderers’?

By Bill Bateman.  There has been a series of letters in West Australian newspapers recently that have prompted me to write this piece: the letters complain about an apparent rise in the number of ravens (Corvus coronoides) in suburbs and a concomitant decline in other bird species. The ravens are accused of nest robbing: “there…

Shelter me, feed me! Quokkas select plants for shelter and food

By Holly Poole.  Quokkas have been isolated on Rottnest Island over the last 7,000 years, since sea levels rose and cut off connectivity with the mainland. The island has a high density of animals. In autumn, after a hot and dry summer, if animals do not have sufficient body reserves, they can be particularly challenged…

High density housing: Termite mounds are more than just lumps of dirt

By Trish Fleming. Termites are amazing ecosystem engineers – they create massive changes in ecosystems that are far out of proportion to their size. A recent paper by Thompson and Thompson (2015; Pacific Conservation Biology) has captured how important termite mounds are for the Australian landscape. At their study site in the Pilbara region of Western…

It’s getting hot in here: Reptile assemblages in drought-affected forest

By Shannon Dundas. In the past 50 years, the climate in southwest WA has become hotter and drier [1, 2]. Annual rainfall in the northern jarrah forest has decreased by 17% since the 1970s [3].  In addition to the direct effects, changing climate is having a substantial impact on wildlife species through changes in habitat….

Hormones gone wild

By Stephanie Hing.  Hormones, neurochemical signaling substances, are in charge of everything we do. From the time you got up in this morning to when your head hits the pillow tonight (and as you sleep), hormones will be working hard to keep you alive. They coordinate all the systems in our bodies from digesting food…