Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Yellow sandplain mammals of the Great Victoria Desert (#759)

Jeff Turpin 1 , Joanna Riley 1
  1. Kingfisher Environmental Consulting, Carlisle, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Across a decade of sampling, 14 small (<200g), ground-dwelling mammals were recorded from the yellow sandplains of the Great Victoria Desert. The assemblage was derived from four complimentary survey techniques, trapping (12 species detected), motion-sensitive cameras (11 species), the identification of trace evidence (6 species) and the material present in predator scats (7 species). Three species consistently dominated the assemblage trapped; Ningaui sp. (49% of captures), Notomys alexis (18%) and Pseudomys hermansburgensis (13%). The assemblage varied between sampling periods, attributable to factors such as temperature, rainfall and fire history. The identification of remains within predator scats (feral cat, fox and dingo) revealed the presence of cryptic species (e.g. Notoryctes typhlops) and highlighted the threat of predation to many native mammals, including the threatened Sminthopsis psammophila. While most small mammals were highly detectable, three species, Dasycercus blythi, Sminthopsis psammophila and Cercartetus concinnus, were rarely recorded and appear to be sparsely distributed across the landscape (Cercartetus concinnus was trapped only once over 9,720 trap nights). The study area lies in a biogeographic interzone with several temperate-adapted species occurring in small populations near their known range limits (e.g. Cercartetus concinnus). As some populations are patchy, additional species were added to the known assemblage during years nine and ten of sampling, revealing significant effort can be required to fully document the mammal assemblage of a site. Detection of small mammals was greatly improved using motion-sensitive cameras. Techniques used to identify several species are displayed below.