Almost half of Australia’s 30 recent mammal extinctions have occurred in one of our most poorly understood groups – rodents. Of 64 native species of Australian rats and mice, 14 are already extinct and another 24 are of conservation concern. Among other factors, inappropriate fire regimes may contribute to the decline of many Australian rodent species.
Over the past 40 years, the threatened New Holland Mouse (Pseudomys novaehollandiae) has been extirpated from most of its known range in Victoria. Of the ten locations where P. novaehollandiae were once found in the State, only three are known to still support populations. The areas where P. novaehollandiae persists are highly fire prone and subject to regular ‘management’ burns. Ideally, these fires would maintain vegetation in a way that is suitable for P. novaehollandiae; however if fires are too large, too frequent, or too infrequent they may instead eliminate the species from an area.
Using radio tracking to map burrow locations and home range size before and after management burns, I am testing the influence of fire on the short-term survival and habitat use of NHMs. Additionally, I am using a long-term Victorian dataset to test whether putative P. novaehollandiae associations with early post-fire successional classes are upheld. With this information I am developing recommendations for burning, including suitable fire scales, to promote conservation of the species in its remaining Victorian strongholds.