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Mammal decline and recovery in Australia

Short, J. and Smith, A. (1994) Mammal decline and recovery in Australia. Journal of Mammalogy, 75 (2). pp. 288-297.

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Fifty percent of all the mammal species to have become extinct worldwide in the past 200 years have been lost from the Australian fauna giving Australia the worst record for mammal conservation of any country or continent. Sixteen species from a mammal fauna of 245 are believed to be extinct, 26 species now occur only as remnant populations occupying <20% of their former ranges. Offshore islands, tropical Australia, and the mesic fringe of the continent have provided refuges where mammal communities have survived relatively intact. The drier interior regions, which include cereal growing areas, intensive and extensive pastoral areas, and the little-used Triodia deserts, have lost many species. Extinctions and declines have not occurred equally throughout the Australian fauna, but have occurred at a disproportionately higher rate among medium-sized ground-dwelling mammals in the weight range 0.035-5.500 kg. Historically, conservation of mammals has concentrated on protection from hunting and trade, reservation of land as national parks and nature reserves, and faunal surveys to map distribution and abundance. These approaches have been necessary but insufficient to either stabilize the decline of endangered mammals or to promote their recovery. The past 20 years have seen many attempts to conserve endangered mammals, either by evading the presumed cause(s) of extinction or decline by translocation to islands, or by managing these causes within reserves by controlling exotic predators, controlling or excluding exotic herbivores, or applying a particular fire pattern or regime. The most significant successes have come with effective control of exotic predators, either by establishing populations of endangered species on predator-free islands or by the intensive use of 1080 poison to control exotic predators at mainland sites.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: American Society of Mammalogists
Copyright: © 1994 American Society of Mammalogists
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