, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 741-752
Date: 10 Jun 2008

Use of space by the yellow-footed antechinus, Antechinus flavipes, in a fragmented landscape in South Australia

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Abstract

An understanding of how individual species are able to persist and move within fragmented landscapes is critical for elucidating the effects of fragmentation and aiding in the management of species. Here, we studied movement behaviour of the dasyurid Antechinus flavipes in a heavily fragmented landscape using trapping and radiotracking. We assessed the ability of animals to move within and amongst small (<6 ha) remnants and make use of the matrix, and investigated how females used the available space within remnants. Seventeen between-remnant movements were detected from 428 recaptures, ranging in length from 30 to 720 m and averaging 352 m. Most were by adult males during the breeding season, with 40% more than 500 m. Landscape types traversed would have included exotic pine plantations, open grazed areas and roads. Between-site movements of juveniles were only detected on three occasions. However, few young males were captured as adults, suggesting high dispersal rates and considerable matrix use. Conversely, despite high female recapture rates, again only three between-site movements were recorded. Radiotracking further indicated that females confined foraging to remnants, with occasional forays to isolated trees in paddocks. Female home range areas were similar for remnants and forest (0.04–0.66 ha). A. flavipes is clearly able to persist in very small patches of native vegetation in the landscape studied here. Its long-term persistence appears dependent on the ability of females to maintain a presence in the small remnants, and of unrelated males to move between remnants to breed with resident females. This study illustrates the importance of recognising the occurrence of metapopulations in fragmented landscapes for conservation management.