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Utilisation of Phytophthora cinnamomi affected habitats by honey possums

Dundas, S.J., Fleming, P.A., Dunstan, W. and Hardy, G.E.St.J. (2009) Utilisation of Phytophthora cinnamomi affected habitats by honey possums. In: Dieback Information Group Conference (DIG 09), 5 June, Perth, Western Australia.

Abstract

The honey possum is a unique species which feeds exclusively on nectar and pollen. Given their dependence on floristic diversity, the honey possum is thought to be especially vulnerable in habitats affected by Phytophthora cinnamomi. Honey possum habitat preferences were determined via radio tracking. Honey possums generally showed a preference for locations with attributes consistent with unaffected vegetation (ta11 and dense) although radio tracking showed they utilised both P. cinnamomi affected and unaffected areas. Honey possum food plants were determined from identification of pollen collected from captured honey possums. Honey possums had a particular affinity for Banksia plumosa subsp. plumosa which is utilised for year round nectar and pollen as well as refuge. Banksia plumosa subsp. plumosa is common throughout unaffected areas but is susceptible to P. cinnamomi. Honey possums were shown to be capable of moving relatively large distances and can utilise a range of flowering plants. Further spread of P. cinnamomi however could potentially result in food resources being so dispersed that they will be insufficient to support honey possum populations.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management
School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/11127
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