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Small mammals in abundance at the Prom

Thursday 20 September, 2012

A collaborative initiative established in 2010 between Parks Victoria and Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) has continued to uncover surprising results at Wilsons Promontory National Park.

The program has focused on small mammal trapping and monitoring on eight different sites within the park to try and determine any impacts on mammal populations from the 2005 and 2009 bushfires, as well as the 2011 major flood event.

Parks Victoria Senior Ranger Dan Jones said after three years since the 2009 fire, the vegetation in the northern section of the park is noticeably thicker and taller which certainly provides a more conducive environment for small mammals habitat.

“A total of 189 mammals were trapped and recorded with species such as Bush Rat, Swamp Rat and Southern Brown Bandicoots identified.

“The positive news from undertaking this research at regular intervals is that we have seen a strong increase in small mammals within the targeted sites.

“From our initial study in 2010, we captured 27 animals and now in 2012, we have caught 189 animals,” said Mr Jones. “Over the same period the exotic House Mouse population, known to be opportunistic after a fire, has declined. We captured 19 of the species in 2010 whilst in 2012 we only caught three. This shows that with a recovering vegetation structure the native animals are able to outcompete this pest species.

So the study has proven that three years after the 2009 fires, the small mammal habitat has recovered very well and is now providing very good cover and foraging potential for the native small mammal population.

The next stage of the project will study the sites within the Telegraph Track area to see how the mammal populations have recovered since the 2005 fires and we can draw an effective comparison. This will be undertaken once all of the flood recovery works have been completed and the track reopened.

The collaboration between Parks Victoria and CVA has been very successful with over 1200 volunteer project days, contributing over 60000 volunteer hours throughout 90 Parks Victoria locations across Victoria. Volunteers have contributed to significant environmental results such as the planting of over 68000 plants and removing introduced weeds from more than 220 hectares of parkland.

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