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The impact of the plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi on the abundance and distribution of the mardo (Antechinus flavipes) in the jarrah forest of Western Australia

Armistead, R., Garkaklis, M., Colquhoun, I. and Hardy, G. (2005) The impact of the plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi on the abundance and distribution of the mardo (Antechinus flavipes) in the jarrah forest of Western Australia. In: 51st Scientific Meeting of the Australian Mammal Society, 4 - 8 July, Albany, Western Australia.

Abstract

The introduced soil-borne plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi kills many native plant species in a wide range of vegetation communities throughout the jarrah forest of Western Australia. This pathogen causes dramatic and irreversible changes to the vegetation structure and floristic richness and can effectively transform a functioning ecosystem into arid and desolate landscape. However, the impact this pathogen has on the abundance and distribution of the small mammal fauna in the jarrah forest is relatively unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the abundance and distribution of the mardo in P. Cinnamomi disturbed and undisturbed areas of the jarrah forest. In this study, a total of 2139 trap nights were conducted at the P cinnamomi disturbed areas for 18 mardos to be captured 57 times for a trap success of 2.67%. In contrast, during the 1056 trap nights undertaken at the undisturbed area, a total of 38 mardos were captured 178 times for a trap success of 16.85%. Studies on the habitat revealed that the dramatic decrease in vegetation structure, canopy cover, leaf litter, large logs and large standing trees following P. Cinnamomi infestation may contribute to the mardo declines observed during this study. Therefore, suggesting that the impact of plant death and the subsequent foliage collapse following infestation by P cinnamomi may have dire consequences to the abundance and distribution of small mammals in the jarrah forest.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/16073
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