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AWMS Newsletter

  July 2017

Volume 31 Issue 2   

From the President

750 mammal experts made the long trip to Perth last week, to discuss breaking research on their favourite furballs at the 12th International Mammal Congress. There were up to 10 parallel sessions, which made it difficult deciding which talks to attend at any one time – no two attendees would have come away with the same combination of talks and data swimming through their heads.

The theme of the conference was Advances in Mammalogy in a Changing World, which was interpreted through the viewpoints of 600 spoken and poster presenters.

Don Bradshaw, Marilyn Renfree and Norberto Giannini described the evolutionary uniqueness of their favourite mammals – marsupials and bats – and how their reproductive and feeding biologies responded to unforgiving environments and feeding opportunities. The biological adaptations shown in these taxa evolved in response to changes happening over millions of years, but threatened species currently face challenges over the span of a mere few hundred years.

Krisofer Helgen spoke about changing species distributions over the last 200 years as portrayed through the pages of museum and hunting records. This theme was extended through symposia on ‘The vital role of mammal remains in reconstructing recently extinct faunas’ and ‘The role of climate and environmental change in megafaunal extinctions’.

Impacts of changing climate were described in terms of boom and bust rainfall-driven cycles in arid Australian zones (Chris Dickman; symposia on ‘Behaviour and ecology of dryland mammals’), increasing global climatic temperatures (Duncan Mitchell; symposia on ‘Wild ecophysiology: How free living mammals work’), and dynamic Arctic environments, where melting icepack has seen polar bears and narwhal move greater distances to find food (Terrie Williams). There were important lessons here about managing wildlife based on misleading assumptions – for example based on flawed understanding of thermal biology, or extrapolating from domestic animals (which are often small and easy to work with) to make predictions about truly wild species.

Taxon-specific workshops were convened as part of the conference, including marine mammal, mustelid, bat, and IUCN SSC Canid and Small Mammal Specialist Groups. There were many, many more open sessions, describing research on all mammals great and small.

A number of tools and approaches to wildlife conservation were discussed, with symposia and workshops on conservation hunting of large mammals, genetic surveys, camera trapping, remote sensing equipment, and implantable physiological monitors.

A diversity of institutions were represented throughout the programme, capturing wide-ranging viewpoints on how to tackle mammal conservation. Susan Hunt captured the proactive role of zoos in breeding and release programmes to vouchsafe species on the brink of extinction, capturing the imagination of 700 million zoo visitors annually. Symposia on ‘Safe havens for threatened mammals - islands and exclosures’ continued this theme of managing threatened species through protected populations as well as through mitigation of predation impacts (i.e. predator control and tools for improving prey survival) to get animals ‘beyond the fence’.

David Macdonald gave an eloquent plenary describing the 43% reduction in lion population numbers over three lion generations, such that today, two thirds of populations are below carrying capacity. The plight of lions is a story of their exploitation by and conflict with humans, with 14 countries using the lion on their national emblem, while only two carry the conservation costs of extant populations. The future of this iconic species needs to be recognised as a global imperative and David proposed that conservation action could be supported by putting a monetary value on using threatened species for product endorsement.

The record of human impacts on our environment was continued through symposia on ‘Mammals in anthropogenic landscapes’. While some mammal species take the opportunity of anthropogenic niches to thrive, the challenge for most wildlife management is recognising where such changes threaten persistence of vulnerable species. A challenge that AWMS members regularly step up to face.

Best Student Presentation 2016

No water, no hope: the on-ground feasibility of a waterless barrier to stop the spread of invasive cane toads in Western Australia

Emily Gregg

Since its introduction in 1935, the cane toad (Rhinella marina) has spread from Queensland into New South Wales, and across northern Australia. The toad has significantly impacted populations of native Australian predators, which are vulnerable to its toxin. While the toad front in New South Wales appears slowed by a cool climate, the front in Western Australia continues to spread rapidly. Toads are currently established in the east Kimberley and the invasion front is moving southwest towards the Pilbara.

Unlike the humid northern regions currently occupied by toads, the corridor between the Kimberley and the Pilbara is incredibly arid. Indeed, previous work suggests that toad survival here will rely on the presence of artificial water sources, such as pastoral dams, for hydration and breeding. The reliance of toads on these water bodies provides an opportunity to prevent cane toad movement through the corridor. Modelling suggests that by removing ~100 water bodies in a specific locality we can create a ‘waterless barrier’, preventing toad movement into the Pilbara. The barrier need only be ~80 km wide, and cost $4.5 million over 50 years.

A major assumption of this strategy is that cane toads will be unable to survive the corridor’s dry season without access to artificial water bodies, yet how can we be sure of this? Toads use burrows as shelter against dehydration within their current range; might they do the same in the corridor? There are also two main habitat types here: coastal plains and desert flats. Can we be sure these differing landscapes are both unsuitable for toads during the dry season?

My Master’s project directly addressed these concerns. By translocating and radio-tracking 78 male cane toads within the Kimberley-Pilbara corridor, I was able to monitor toad movement, water loss, shelter site use, and survival during the dry season. I tracked toads in both coastal and desert habitat types, in sites more than 1.7 km away from artificial water bodies. My main focus was on one question: can cane toads survive in the corridor’s dry season without access to artificial water bodies?

My work suggests they cannot. My model predicted a maximum survival time of five days for toads in the corridor’s dry season. Toads within the desert sites survived longer than toads at coastal sites, plausibly due to the dramatic difference in shelter availability between these two habitat types. Burrows were at a higher density within the desert habitat compared to the coastal habitat, providing toads with greater shelter availability from high diurnal temperatures. It is also interesting to note that toads had highly variable movement rates, and a few toads exceeded expectations, moving up to 2.5 km in one night.

My results provide further support for the waterless barrier strategy, illustrating that toads cannot survive more than five days within the Kimberley-Pilbara corridor during the dry season. Toads are expected to arrive at the corridor within the next 5–10 years, by which time it will be too late to successfully implement the waterless barrier. I hope my work provides further incentive to consider the strategy a priority, and seize the opportunity to prevent cane toad movement into the Pilbara.

I thank the Australian Wildlife Society, Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife, and the Australasian Wildlife Management Society for their support.

Best student poster 2016

Brushtail possums: linking personality to diet and the implications for invasive species management

Anushika Herath

Invasive species are a major cause of global biodiversity loss, mostly arising from their foraging impacts. Behavioral phenotypes (also known as personality traits) are predicted to influence an animal’s response to its environment because different behavioral phenotypes perceive and react differently to similar stimuli. Here we studied free-ranging common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) which is invasive in New Zealand and a pest in parts of Australia. We hypothesised that their diets will differ as a function of their personality, and predicted that pro-active (bold, exploratory, active) animals would have a more diverse diet because they would have more diverse foraging opportunities, such as foraging more on the ground and in gardens where predation risk is higher.

We studied 31 wild possums from May 2015 to July 2016 on the urban boundary with open eucalypt forest in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Sydney Australia. We quantified the personality of each animal along the axes of boldness, activity and exploration using the field method described in [1] and statistics following [2]. We also collected scats directly from the traps to determine the diet of these known individuals using microhistological methods. We tested diet species richness as a function of the three personality traits using general linear model with fixed factors in R version 3.1.3. The best fitted model was selected using AIC.

Our results show that the diet of individual possums is strongly influenced by personality (exploration and activity). Diet of exploratory individuals was more diverse than for less exploratory individuals. Diet diversity was also related to season. Given that the personality of different animals leads to different choice of foods within the same landscape, we predict that herbivore impact on plant communities will vary as a function of individual phenotype. These results are relevant to predictions of the impact of possums as an invasive species on plant communities especially where pest control efforts may selectively remove some (e.g. bold) individuals from a population. Personality traits, i.e. individual beharioural phenotypes, should be integrated into future pest management systems.


First and foremost I would like to thank AWMS for awarding me the Best Poster Award in 2016 conference. Very special thanks goes to the University of Sydney, my supervisors A/ Prof Clare McArthur, Prof Peter Banks for their continuous guidance, my lab mates (especially Tom Gillard and Katie Wat) for helping me with field work and the Royal Botanical Gardens for assisting with plant identification.


Mella, V.S., et al., Effective field-based methods to quantify personality in brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). Wildlife Research, 2016. 43(4): p. 332-340.
Dingemanse, N.J. and N.A. Dochtermann, Quantifying individual variation in behaviour: mixed-effect modelling approaches. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2013. 82(1): p. 39-54.

practitioner award winner

In December 2016, mangers of the Kākāpō Recovery Programme team attended and gave three presentations at the Australasian Wildlife Management Society conference. It was a great opportunity for networking and learning about new conservation techniques. The Kākāpō team were presented with the AWMS ‘Practitioners award’ for outstanding practice in wildlife management, given in recognition of the team’s success in managing 2016’s breeding season.

The kākāpō, a large, nocturnal, flightless parrot, endemic to New Zealand, is managed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation under an intensive conservation programme. Kākāpō were once one of the most common birds in New Zealand, but their population dropped to a low of only 51 birds in 1995 due to the impacts of introduced predators, habitat loss, and hunting. Since 1995 the Programme has focussed on protecting the remaining kākāpō and intensively managing their breeding in order to increase the population. Kākāpō breed irregularly, triggered by the mass fruiting of rimu trees, and their breeding issues are further compounded by poor fertility due to inbreeding depression.


The 2016 breeding season was the biggest yet seen by the programme. In total 122 eggs were laid, 47 chicks hatched, 32 of which survived, boosting the kākāpō population to 153 individuals. Not only was the season one of the largest on record, we also had the first successful breeding on Anchor Island, probably the first time that kākāpō had bred in Fiordland since the 1940s. Excitingly Kuia, the only daughter of Richard Henry, who was the only Fiordland kākāpō to survive and contribute to the programme, bred for the first time, producing four chicks.

Managing this breeding season took a huge commitment not only from the core team, but also from additional DOC staff, vets, researchers and hundreds of volunteers, who came on board to help out.

All the 2016 chicks, now juveniles, are doing well in the wild and the team is planning for the next breeding season, potentially in 2019.

Conference call for abstracts 2017

Abstracts are now being accepted for this years AWMS conference in Katoomba 5-7 December. The call for abstracts closes August 31 so download the Call for Abstracts now!

awms awards 2017

AWMS Awards are now open for application! AWMS has a wide range of awards available for its members.

Practitioner Award - to recognise those practitioners implementing outstanding wildlife management in their field

D.W.Cooper Student Thesis Award - for a thesis of excellence within the field of scientifically-based wildlife management research

Postgraduate Research Award - to facilitate postgraduate student (Masters and PhD) research associated with the scientific management of wildlife

Honours and Undergraduate Travel Award - to facilitate tertiary (undergraduate and Honours) student involvement in the range of fields associated with the scientific management of wildlife

All applications close 31 August 2017. Head to our website for more information

committee POSITIONS available

This year a number of Committee positions will open for nomination. While an official call for nominations will come out in the next newsletter and via email, the AWMS Committee encourages members to consider supporting their Society by nominating for a position. Anyone considering a position on the Committee will require a member to nomimate them and an additional member to second that nomination. Full details will be provided closer to the conference. All positions are two year terms and current holders of the positions can re-nominate. Positions up for nomination are:

    • Vice President
    • Treasurer
    • Membership Secretary
    • Committee Member 1
    • Committee Member 2
    • Committee Member 3
    • Australian Student Representative
    • New Zealand Student Representative

member publications

Due to the overwhelming response from our members, we can only listed publication titles and contact details for corresponding authors. It's good to see so many papers being produced by AWMS members.

Lily van Eeden -

van Eeden LM, Crowther MS, Dickman CR, Macdonald DW, Ripple WJ, Ritchie EG & Newsome TM (2017) Managing conflict between large carnivores and livestock. Conservation Biology (accepted online)

Al Glen -

Glen, AS, Latham, MC, Anderson, D, Leckie, C, Niemiec, R, Pech, RP and Byrom, AE (2017). Landholder participation in regional-scale control of invasive predators: an adaptable landscape model. Biological Invasions 19, 329–338.

Rolf Schlagloth

Santamaria, F., & Schlagloth, R. (2016). The effect of Chlamydia on translocated Chlamydia-naïve koalas: a case study. Australian Zoologist, 38(2), 192-202.

Corresponding author:

Wedrowicz, F., Wright, W., Schlagloth, R., Santamaria, F., & Cahir, F. (2017). Landscape, koalas and people: A historical account of koala populations and their environment in South Gippsland. Australian Zoologist.

Corresponding author:

Helen Morgan

Morgan, H. R., Hunter, J. T., Ballard, G. A., Reid, N. C. H., and Fleming, P. J. S (2017) Trophic cascades and dingoes in Australia: does the wolf-elk-willow model apply? Food Webs in press

Morgan, H. R., Hunter, J. T., Ballard, G. A., and Fleming, P. J. S (2017) The trophic cascades concept may constrain Australian predator reintroduction experiments: a response to Newsome et al. Food Webs in press

Kath Handasyde

Rowland JA, Briscoe NJ and Handasyde KA (2017) Comparing the thermal suitability of nest-boxes and tree-hollows for the conservation-management of arboreal marsupials Biol Cons 209:341-348

Corresponding author:

Griffith SR, Rowland JA, Briscoe NJ, Lentini PE, Handasyde KA, Lumsden LF and Robert KA (2017) Surface reflectance drives nest box temperature profiles and thermal suitability for target wildlife PLOS ONE

Corresponding author:

Naomi Davis

Naomi E. Davis, Ami Bennett, David M. Forsyth, David M. J. S. Bowman, Edward C. Lefroy, Samuel W. Wood, Andrew P. Woolnough, Peter West, Jordan O. Hampton and Christopher N. Johnson

A systematic review of the impacts and management of introduced deer (family Cervidae) in Australia. Wildlife Research 43(6) 515-532,

Sarah Munks

Lunn, T., S. Munks, S. Carver (2017). Impacts of timber harvest on stream biota – an expanding field of heterogeneity. Biological Conservation (in press)

Corresponding author:

Barbara Wilson

Mandy Lock and Barbara A. Wilson. Influence of rainfall on population dynamics and survival of a threatened rodent (Pseudomys novaehollandiae) under a drying climate in coastal woodlands of south-eastern Australia Australian Journal of Zoology 65(1) 60-70

A. F. Wayne, B. A. Wilson and J. C. Z. Woinarski 2017 Falling apart? Insights and lessons from three recent studies documenting rapid and severe decline in terrestrial mammal assemblages of northern, south-eastern and south- western Australia Wildlife Research 44, 114–126

Corresponding author:

Bronwyn Fancourt

Fancourt, B. A., Sweaney, M., and Fletcher, D. B. (2017). More haste, less speed: pilot study suggests camera trap detection zone could be more important than trigger speed to maximise species detections. Australian Mammalogy. doi:

Legge, S., Murphy, B. P., McGregor, H., Woinarski, J. C. Z., Augusteyn, J., Ballard, G., Baseler, M., Buckmaster, T., Dickman, C. R., Doherty, T., Edwards, G., Eyre, T., Fancourt, B. A., Ferguson, D., Forsyth, D. M., Geary, W. L., Gentle, M., Gillespie, G., Greenwood, L., Hohnen, R., Hume, S., Johnson, C. N., Maxwell, M., McDonald, P. J., Morris, K., Moseby, K., Newsome, T., Nimmo, D., Paltridge, R., Ramsey, D., Read, J., Rendall, A., Rich, M., Ritchie, E., Rowland, J., Short, J., Stokeld, D., Sutherland, D. R., Wayne, A. F., Woodford, L., and Zewe, F. (2017). Enumerating a continental-scale threat: How many feral cats are in Australia? Biological Conservation 206, 293-303. doi:

Peter Shaughnessy

Shaughnessy, P. D., and Christian, M. (2016). Seals (Pinnipedia) at Norfolk Island, South-west Pacific Ocean. Australian Mammalogy 38: 234-236.

Cheryl Lhor

Lohr C, Wenger A, Woodberry O, Pressey R, Morris K(2017) Predicting island biosecurity risk from introduced fauna using Bayesian Belief Networks. Science of the Total Environment, 601-602, 1173-1181.

Lohr C, Hone J, Bode M, Dickman C, Wenger A, Pressey R (2017) Modeling dynamics of native and invasive species to guide prioritization of management actions. Ecosphere, 8, e01822.

Patrick Garvey

Garvey, P. M., Glen, A. S., Clout, M. N., Wyse, S. V., Nichols, M., & Pech, R. P. (2017). Exploiting interspecific olfactory communication to monitor predators. Ecological Applications, 27(2), 389-402.

Sue Briggs

Briggs S (2017)The multiple faces of sustainability - from sustained yield to sustainable development Pacific Conservation Biology 23:133-138

Greg Baxter

Gregory T. Sullivan, Sabahat K. Ozman-Sullivan, Anne Bourne, Jean-Pierre Lumaret, Unal Zeybekoglu, Myron P. Zalucki & Gregory S. Baxter. 2017. Temporal resource partitioning and interspecific correlations in a warm, temperate assemblage of dung beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidea). Journal of Insect Science 17: 1-6.

Clive McAlpine, Grant Brearley, Jonathan Rhodes, Adrian Bradley, Greg Baxter, Leonie Seabrook, Daniel Lunney, Yan Liu, Manuelle Cottin, Andrew G. Smith, Peter Timms (2017) Time-delayed influence of urban landscape change on the susceptibility of koalas to chlamydiosis Landscape Ecology, 32:663–679

Doug Armstrong

Armstrong, D.P. (2017) Population responses of a native bird species to rat control. Journal of Wildlife Management 81:342–346.

Doerr, L.R., Richardson, K.M., Ewen, J.G., Armstrong, D.P. (2017) Effect of supplementary feeding on reproductive success of hihi (stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta) at a mature forest reintroduction site. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 41:34-40.

Corresponding author:

Morrison, K.W., Armstrong, D.P., Battley, P.F., Jamieson, S.E., Thompson, D.R. (2017) Predation by New Zealand sea lions and Brown Skuas is causing the continued decline of an Eastern Rockhopper Penguin colony on Campbell Island. Polar Biology 40:735-751.

Corresponding author:

Richardson, K.M., Ewen, J.G., Brekke, P., Doerr, L.R., Parker, K.A., Armstrong, D.P. (2017) Behaviour during handling predicts male natal dispersal distances in an establishing reintroduced hihi (Notiomystis cincta) population. Animal Conservation 20:135–143.

Corresponding author:

Armstrong, D.P. (2016) Using reference sites to account for detection probability in occupancy surveys for freshwater turtles. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 11:505-518.

Canessa, S., Guillera-Arroita, G., Lahoz-Monfort, J., Southwell, D.M., Armstrong, D.P., Chadès, I., Lacy, R.C., Converse, S.J. (2016) Adaptive management for improving species conservation across the captive-wild spectrum. Biological Conservation 199:123-131.

Corresponding author:

Panfylova, J., Bemelmans, E., Devine, C., Frost, P., Armstrong, D.P. (2016) The importance of post-release effects when projecting the future of reintroduced populations. Journal of Wildlife Management 80:970-977.

Corresponding author:

Adrian Wayne

Ash, A., Elliot, A., Godfrey, S., Burmej, H., Abdad, M.Y., Northover, A., Wayne, A., Morris, K., Clode, P.L., Lymbery, A., Thompson, R.C.A., 2017. Morphological and molecular description of Ixodes woyliei n. sp. (Ixodidae) with consideration for co-extinction with its critically endangered marsupial host. Parasite and Vectors 10:70.

Hing, S., Northover, A., Narayan, E., Wayne, A.F., Jones, K., Keatley, S., Thompson, A., Godfrey, S., 2017. Evaluating stress physiology and parasite infection parameters in the translocation of critically endangered woylies (Bettongia penicillata). EcoHealth 14 (Suppl1), 128-138.

Northover, A.S., Godfrey, S.S., Lymbery, A.J., Morris, K.D., Wayne, A.F., Thompson, R.C.A., 2017. Evaluating the effects of Ivermectin treatment on communities of gastrointestinal parasites in translocated woylies (Bettongia penicillata). EcoHealth 14(Suppl 1), 117-127.

Pacioni, C., Williams, M.R., Lacy, R.C., Spencer, P.B., Wayne, A.F., 2017. Predators and genetic fitness: key threatening factors for the conservation of a bettong species. Pacific Conservation Biology 23, 200-212.

Wayne, A.F., Maxwell, M.A., Ward, C.G., Wayne, J.C., Vellios, C.V., Wilson, I., 2017. Recoveries and cascading declines of native mammals associated with control of an introduced predator. Journal of Mammalogy 98(2), 498-501.

Yeatman, G., Wayne, A.F., Mills, H., Prince, J., 2016. It’s not all about the creeks: protection of multiple habitats will improve biodiversity conservation in a eucalypt forest. Australian Journal of Zoology 64, 292-301.

Yeatman, G., Wayne, A.F., Mills, H., Prince, J., 2016. Temporal patterns in the abundance of a critically endangered marsupial relates to disturbance by roads and agriculture. PLOS ONE 11

This newsletter reflects the opinions of the author(s) but not necessarily those of the AWMS Committee or membership. AWMS makes no claim as to the accuracy of stated claims and any party using this information does so at their own risk.

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