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Relict Bettongia lesueur warrens in Western Australian deserts

Burbidge, A.A., Short, J. and Fuller, P.J. (2007) Relict Bettongia lesueur warrens in Western Australian deserts. Australian Zoologist, 43 (1). pp. 97-103.

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The Boodie or Burrowing Bettong Bettongia lesueur became extinct on the Australian mainland by about 1960 but, in some areas, left evidence of its previous distribution in the form of relict landscape features, which remain widespread in arid areas with hard soils. We recorded the location of landscape features ('mounds'), which we attributed to B. lesueur, in the western deserts during the 1980s and 1990s. There were two types of mounds - large, irregular shaped mounds of calcrete or clayey soils that were accumulated spoil from warren digging and smaller, regular, and largely circular mounds on lateritic surfaces. We mapped mounds, which are visible as obvious features in an otherwise often monotonous landscape, during vehicular traverses of desert tracks over a 10-15 year period. Mound density along one 215 km traverse in the northern Gibson Desert was 5.9±0.96 km-2. We measured attributes of both types of mound in the Gibson Desert. The former persist as warrens (often occupied by Rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus), have many entrances, are often large in aerial extent, and often associated with rock capping. The latter are largely symmetrical mounds, smaller (typically < 20 m in diameter), and with soil penetrability typically far greater than surrounding soil that often has a hard pan.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
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