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Jackson et al. 2017 The effect of relatedness and pack size on territory overlap in African wild dogs.

The degree of territorial overlap between neighbouring African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) packs varies greatly, yet the role of factors potentially affecting this remain unclear. We used movement data from 20 pack dyads to calculate the extent of territory overlap, finding that related neighbours had significantly greater levels of peripheral overlap and spent significantly more time in overlap zones than did unrelated packs. Pack size appeared to have little effect on overlap between related dyads, yet among unrelated neighbours larger packs tended to overlap more onto smaller packs’ territories. This spacing may affect the carrying capacity of protected areas, and have important management implications for intensively managed populations of this endangered species.

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Callaghan et al. 2017 History, Current Distribution, and Status of the Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) In the Contiguous United States


We summarize the history, current distribution, and status of Egyptian geese (Alopochen aegyptiaca) in the contiguous United States, using published records and the eBird database of bird observations. The area of occupancy for the Egyptian goose has increased throughout the contiguous United States. The species has three populations that appear to be strongholds throughout the United States: Florida, California, and Texas. The potential ecological and economic consequences of an apparent increase in the United States warrant further research on a number of aspects of Egyptian goose biology.

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Mills et al. 2017 Rewilded mammal assemblages reveal the missing ecological functions of granivores

Rewilding is a strategy for ecological restoration that uses reintroductions of animals to re-establish the ecological functions of keystone species. Globally, rewilding efforts have focused primarily on reinstating the ecological functions of charismatic megafauna. In Australia, rewilding efforts have focused on restoring the ecological functions of herbivorous and omnivorous rodents and marsupials weighing between 30-5000g inside of predator-proof exclosures.
In many arid ecosystems, mammals are considered the dominant seed predators. In Australian deserts, ants are considered to be the primary removers and predators of seeds and mammals unimportant removers and predators of seeds. However, most research on granivory in Australian deserts has occurred in areas where native mammals were functionally extinct.
Here, we compare rates of seed removal by mammals and ants on shrub seeds and abundance of shrub seedlings in two rewilded desert ecosystems (Arid Recovery Reserve and Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary) with adjacent areas possessing depauperate mammal faunas. We used foraging trays containing seeds of common native shrubs (Acacia ligulata and Dodonaea viscosa) to examine rates of seed removal by ants and mammals. We quantified the abundance of A. ligulata and D. viscosa seedlings inside and outside of rewilded areas along belt transects.
By excluding ants and mammals from foraging trays, we show that ants removed more seeds than mammals where mammal assemblages were depauperate, but mammals removed far more seeds than ants in rewilded areas. Shrub seedlings were more abundant in areas with depauperate mammal faunas than in rewilded areas.
Our study provides evidence that rewilding of desert mammal assemblages has restored the hitherto unappreciated ecological function of omnivorous rodents and bettongs as seed predators. We hypothesize that the loss of omnivorous mammals may be a factor that has facilitated shrub encroachment in arid Australia.
We contend that rewilding programs aimed at restoring ecological processes should not ignore consumers with relatively lower per capita consumptive effects. This is because consumers with low per capita consumptive effects often occur at high population densities or perform critical ecological functions and thus may have significant population level impacts that can be harnessed for ecological restoration.

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Jordan et al. 2017 Dynamics of direct inter-pack encounters in endangered African wild dogs

Aggressive encounters have important life history consequences, but little is known of their detailed dynamics, mainly due to the difficulties of directly observing encounters. We use high-resolution custom-built collars to describe detailed spatial dynamics of encounters between African wild dog packs. Surprisingly, our results indicate that encounters are lower risk than previously thought and do not appear to influence long-term ranging.

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Gordon et al. 2017 Shrub encroachment is linked to extirpation of an apex predator

Abstract The abundance of shrubs has increased throughout Earth's arid lands. This ‘shrub encroachment’ has been linked to livestock grazing, fire-suppression and elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations facilitating shrub recruitment. Apex predators initiate trophic cascades which can influence the abundance of many species across multiple trophic levels within ecosystems. Extirpation of apex predators is linked inextricably to pastoralism, but has not been considered as a factor contributing to shrub encroachment. Here, we ask if trophic cascades triggered by the extirpation of Australia's largest terrestrial predator, the dingo (Canis dingo), could be a driver of shrub encroachment in the Strzelecki Desert, Australia. We use aerial photographs spanning a 51-year period to compare shrub cover between areas where dingoes are historically rare and common. We then quantify contemporary patterns of shrub, shrub seedling and mammal abundances, and use structural equation modelling to compare competing trophic cascade hypotheses to explain how dingoes could influence shrub recruitment. Finally, we track the fate of seedlings of an encroaching shrub, hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa angustissima), during a period optimal for seedling recruitment, and quantify removal rates of hopbush seeds by rodents from enriched seed patches. Shrub cover was 26–48% greater in areas where dingoes were rare than common. Our structural equation modelling supported the hypothesis that dingo removal facilitates shrub encroachment by triggering a four level trophic cascade. According to this model, increased mesopredator abundance in the absence of dingoes results in suppressed abundance of consumers of shrub seeds and seedlings, rodents and rabbits respectively. In turn, suppressed abundances of rodents and rabbits in the absence of dingoes relaxed a recruitment bottleneck for shrubs. The results of our SEM were supported by results showing that rates of hopbush seedling survival and seed removal were 1·7 times greater and 2·1 times lower in areas where dingoes were rare than common. Our study provides evidence linking the suppression of an apex predator to the historic encroachment of shrubs. We contend that trophic cascades induced by apex predator extirpation may be an overlooked driver of shrub encroachment.


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Hubel et al. 2016 Additive opportunistic capture explains group hunting benefits in African wild dogs

This paper uses high-resolution GPS collar technology to challenge popular perceptions of African wild dogs collaborating to run down their prey over long-distances. African wild dogs actually owe their hunting success to short high-speed runs, undertaken during hunts that typically lack high-level coordination between dogs.

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Letnic et al. 2016 The crest-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus cristicauda) in the south-eastern Strzelecki Desert

Our survey trips always uncover something surprising. Recently we observed a range extension of the crest-tailed mulgara or ampurta, (Dasycercus cristicauda), which was very exciting! We discuss our observations in an article published in Australian Mammalogy. The article can be accessed here: 

The abstract of this article is reproduced below.

We report observations of the crest-tailed mulgara (Dasycercus cristicauda) in the south-eastern Strzelecki Desert. Our observations, made during spotlight surveys and using infrared cameras, extend the contemporary range of D. cristicauda to the east by 180 km but subfossil records show that these observations are within the pre-European-settlement range of the species. Whether our observations represent a range expansion or localised population irruption of a previously unknown refuge population is not known. Future studies are recommended to establish the distribution of D. cristicauda in the region and the factors determining its distribution and abundance

Purwandana et al. 2016 Ecological allometries and niche use dynamics across Komodo dragon ontogeny

Ontogenetic allometries in ecological habits and niche use are key responses by which individuals maximize lifetime fitness. Moreover, such allometries have significant implications for how individuals influence population and community dynamics. Here, we examined howbody size var- iation in Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis)influenced ecological allometries in their: (1) prey size preference, (2) daily movement rates, (3) home range area, and (4) subse- quent niche use across ontogeny. With increased body mass, Komodo dragons increased prey size with a dramatic switch from small (≤10 kg) to large prey (≥50 kg) in lizards heavier than 20 kg. Rates of foraging movement were described by a non-linear concave down response with lizard increasing hourly movement rates up until ∼20 kg body mass before decreasing daily movement suggesting reduced foraging ef- fort in larger lizards. In contrast, home range area exhibited a sigmoid response with increased body mass. Intrapopulation ecological niche use and overlap were also strongly structured by body size. Thus, ontogenetic allometries suggest Komodo dragon’s transition from a highly active foraging mode exploiting small prey through to a less active sit and wait feeding strategy focused on killing large ungulates. Further, our results suggest that as body size increases across ontogeny, the Komodo dragon exhibited marked ontogenetic niche shifts that enabled it to function as an entire vertebrate predator guild by by exploiting prey across multiple trophic levels.


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Parr et al 2016 Cranial Shape and the Modularity of Hybridization in Dingoes and Dogs; Hybridization Does Not Spell the End for Native Morphology

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Abrahms et al. 2016 Does wildlife resource selection accurately inform corridor conservation?

Identifying and protecting wildlife corridors are key conservation challenges. We reviewed connectivity studies employing resource selection analysis and present an empirical case study to test behaviour-specific predictions of connectivity. Our results, using African wild dogs as a case study, suggest that resource selection analyses that fail to consider an animal’s behavioural state are insufficient in targeting movement pathways and corridors for protection. This failure may result in misidentification of wildlife corridors and misallocation of limited conservation resources. Our findings underscore the need for considering patterns of animal movement in appropriate behavioural contexts to ensure the effective application of resource selection analyses for corridor planning

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Clarke-Wood et al. 2016 The ecological response of insectivorous bats to coastal lagoon degradation

Coastal lagoons provide key habitat for a wide range of biota but are often degraded by intense urbanization pressures. Insectivorous bats use these highly productive ecosystems and are likely to be impacted by their decline in quality. We compared bat activity and richness and invertebrate biomass and richness across a gradient of lagoon quality (9 lagoons) in the Greater Sydney region, Australia to determine the extent to which bats and their prey were impacted by lagoon degradation. Bats were more diverse and 19 times more active at higher quality lagoons. The trawling bat, Myotis macropus, was absent from all low quality lagoons, but these lagoons were used by other species such as Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis. Invertebrate richness and biomass did not differ significantly across lagoon quality. We examined potential mechanisms of insectivorous bat decline at degraded lagoons by measuring toxic metal concentrations in bat fur, invertebrates and sediment. Lead and zinc were detected at environmentally significant levels in the sediments of lower quality lagoons. Furthermore, lead concentrations were 6 times the lowest observable adverse effects level for small mammals in the hair of one individual M. macropus. The present study demonstrates that coastal lagoons support a rich bat community, but ongoing development and pollution of these habitats is likely to negatively impact on insectivorous bat species, especially trawling species.


Jordan et al. 2016 Pair-specific scents in African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus, and an example of a potential method to identify signals within complex mixtures

Identifying the specific cues within complex signals is a key problem in animal communication research. We used a novel multivariate statistical approach to identify 19 candidate signals from almost 1000 candidate components within African wild dog urine. Testing the territorial function of these key chemicals is now feasible in the field, and is a critical stage in developing synthetic territorial signals for conservation management.

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Hubel et al. 2016 Energy cost and return for hunting in African wild dogs and cheetahs

African wild dogs are reported to hunt with energetically costly long chase distances. We recorded 1,119 high-speed chases of all members of a pack using custom-built collars, and showed that dogs ran multiple short, high-speed, mostly unsuccessful chases to capture prey. Modeling showed that the energy return of this approach substantially outweighs the cost of multiple short chases, suggesting that African wild dogs are more energetically robust than previously believed.

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Bino et al. 2015 Life history and dynamics of a platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) population: four decades of mark-recapture surveys

Knowledge of the life-history and population dynamics of Australia’s iconic and evolutionarily distinct platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) remains poor. We marked-recaptured 812 unique platypuses (total 1,622 captures), over four decades (1973–2014) in the Shoalhaven River, Australia. Strong sex-age differences were observed in life-history, including morphology and longevity. Apparent survival of adult females (Φ = 0.76) were higher than adult males (Φ = 0.57), as in juveniles: females Φ = 0.27, males Φ = 0.13. Females were highly likely to remain in the same pool (adult: P = 0.85, juvenile: P = 0.88), while residency rates were lower for males (adult: P = 0.74, juvenile: P = 0.46). We combined survival, movement and life-histories to develop population viability models and test the impact of a range of life-history parameters. While using estimated apparent survival produced unviable populations (mean population growth rate r = −0.23, extinction within 20 years), considering residency rates to adjust survival estimates, indicated more stable populations (r = 0.004, p = 0.04 of 100-year extinction). Further sensitivity analyses highlighted adult female survival and overall success of dispersal as most affecting viability. Findings provide robust life-history and viability estimates for a difficult study species. These could support developing large-scale population dynamics models required to underpin a much needed national risk assessment for the platypus, already declining in parts of its current distribution.


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Morris et al. 2015 Divergent foraging behaviour of a desert rodent, Notomys fuscus, in covered and open microhabitats revealed using GUDs and video analysis

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Kennish et al, 2015 2015 Saltmarshes

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Bino et al. 2015 Prioritizing Wetlands for Waterbirds in a Boom and Bust System: Waterbird Refugia and Breeding in the Murray-Darling Basin

A systematic prioritisation of wetlands for waterbirds, across about 13.5% of the Murray-Darling Basin, using a 30-year record of systematic aerial surveys of waterbird populations.

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Feit et al. 2015 Invasive Cane Toads’ Predatory Impact on Dung Beetles is Mediated by Reservoir Type at Artificial Water Points

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Rodríguez et al. 2015 A practical guide to the application of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems criteria

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Baker et al 2015 A composite annual-resolution stalagmite record of North Atlantic climate over the last three millennia

Research on limestone formations in a remote Scottish cave has produced a unique 3000-year-long record of climatic variations that may have influenced historical events including the fall of the Roman Empire and the Viking Age of expansion. For full publication click here

Keith et al. 2015 The IUCN red list of ecosystems: Motivations, challenges and applications

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Murray et al. 2015 Tidal flats of the Yellow Sea: A review of ecosystem status and anthropogenic threats

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Skidmore et al. 2015 Environmental science: Agree on biodiversity metrics to track from space

Conservation scientists should collaborate more with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), on identifying measures to help track biodiversity declines around the world. For full publication click here.

Kingsford 2015 From barriers to limits to climate change adaptation: path dependency and the speed of change

This review examines the broad-ranging effects of climate change with respect to six case studies: the Australian Alps, the Coorong and Lower Lakes, the Great Barrier Reef, the Macquarie Marshes, small inland communities affected by drought and the Torres Strait Islands.

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Murray 2015 Tidal flats are disappearing
Hunter et al. 2015 Reintroduction of Tasmanian devils to mainland Australia can restore top-down control in ecosystems where dingoes have been extirpated

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Pomilia et al. 2015 Ecological predictors of African wild dog ranging patterns in northern Botswana.

Extinction risk in African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) has been linked to their wide-ranging movement behavior. Drivers of variation in ranging are generally not well understood. Our results indicate that the impacts of extrinsic drivers (e.g. temperature, flooding) tend to be scale dependent while intrinsic factors (litter size) may be more influential for ranging patterns than previously reported.

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Catelotti et al. 2015 Inundation Requirements for Persistence and Recovery of River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) in Semi-arid Australia

The building of dams and diversion from rivers has had a major impact on the wetlands of the Murray-Darling Basin. The Macquarie Marshes is one of the better studied of these wetlands. It is a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, one which the Australian Government has formally notified the Ramsar Bureau of likely ecological change in character, predominantly because of the impacts of water resource development. To read the publication click here

Abrahms et al. 2015 The context of road-use by African wild dogs highlights the importance of considering animal behaviour in conservation planning

Roads are among the most widespread forms of landscape alteration globally, so effective conservation planning requires an understanding of how they can affect animal movement. Using novel GPS collar technology we found that the response to roads by endangered African wild dogs, Lycaon pictus, varied with behaviour as well as with habitat. African wild dogs selected roads when travelling, ignored them when running (mostly hunting) and avoided roads when resting. Road-use increased in denser habitats, suggesting that roads may enhance wild dog movement through the landscape. Overall, this work highlights the importance of animal behaviour in conservation planning. Click here for full publication.

Tulloch et al. 2015 Why do we map threats? Linking threat mapping with actions to make better conservation decisions

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