North Queensland Naturalist
North Queensland Naturalist 47 (2017): 21-27
Use of reforested rainforest by arboreal marsupials on the Atherton Tablelands, North-Eastern Australia – a preliminary assessment
Steven Zachar, John Grant, John Winter and Mark McCaffrey
Conservation efforts over the past two decades have restored some of the tropical rainforest cover in the fragmented landscape of the Atherton Tableland, north Queensland. This study is the first to systematically assess whether or not endemic arboreal mammal species are colonizing revegetated areas. We measured their use by five target arboreal marsupials: Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo, Coppery Brushtail Possum, Green Ringtail Possum, Herbert River Ringtail Possum, and Lemuroid Ringtail Possum. Using spotlights, we conducted five surveys in each of 10 sites on the Atherton Tablelands in both restored and remnant reference plots.
Statistical power was low due to few observations so assessing differences between experimental (replanted) and control (remnant) plots was not possible. However, Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroos, Coppery Brushtails, and Green Ringtails were observed permanently inhabiting replanted sites, including one, not adjacent to remnant rainforest. Herbert River Ringtails and Lemuroid Ringtails were, as expected, restricted to the two higher altitude sites and occurred in remnant rainforest. The Herbert River Ringtail occurred in the replanted forest at both sites, whereas the one observation of a Lemuroid Ringtail was on the edge of a replanted site that was closely bracketed by remnant forest.
Findings from this study support revegetation projects throughout the Atherton Tablelands based on their successful uses by arboreal marsupials for habitat.