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The role of a hole: how important are tree hollows for pythons?

Bryant, G. and Fleming, P.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-0626-3851 (2008) The role of a hole: how important are tree hollows for pythons? In: 21st Australasian Wildlife Management Society Conference, 24 - 27 November, Fremantle, Western Australia.


Understanding specific microhabitat requirements is important for predicting species vulnerability to anthropogenic threats. The southwest carpet python Morelia spilota imbricata is recognised as in need of special protection in Western Australia. Pythons from coastal woodland and jarrah forest in southwest Western Australia were implanted with radio transmitters (equipped with temperature data loggers; iButtons recording every hour) and radiotracked weekly (to record microhabitat use) over three years. Tree hollows are an important resource for carpet pythons, particularly over the winter months when about two thirds of the individuals studied use hollows as rest sites for up to five months of the year (the remainder is spent in hollow logs, vegetation, ground cover or burrows). Furthermore, some individuals reuse particular tree hollow roosts year after year and often several pythons roost in the same tree. So why are tree hollows such an important winter resource for this species? We investigate the relationship between tree hollow use and temperature to examine whether tree hollows provide both thermal protection as well as protection from predation over the winter months. This study provides important information for conservation managers, particularly as there is increasing pressure for urban development, mining and logging in this State.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
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