Feeling the pressure at home: predator activity at the burrow entrance of an endangered arid-zone skink

Danae Moore, Michael Ray Kearney, Rachel Paltridge, Steve McAlpin, Adam Stow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Habitat modification and invasive species are among the most important contemporary drivers of biodiversity loss. These two threatening processes are often studied independently and few studies have focused on how they interact to influence species declines. Here we assess the predation pressure placed on the threatened great desert skink (Liopholis kintorei) and how this interacts with fire-induced habitat modifications. We collected daily track data of potential predators for 1 month at 30 great desert skink burrow-systems where vegetation cover varied significantly after experimental burns. We used these data to evaluate potential predation pressure at the burrow-system and assess whether fire influenced predator pressure. We supplemented this analysis by documenting predation via the inspection of large mammalian predator scats collected from great desert skink habitat. The level of feral cat activity at a burrow-system entrance was significantly higher than that of any other potential predator, however fire had no effect on the visitation rates of feral cats, dingoes or large snakes to great desert skink burrow-systems. The remains of great desert skink were found significantly more frequently in feral cat scats, compared to fox and dingo scats. We provide the first direct evidence that feral cats are a significant predator for great desert skink, thus supporting the hypothesis that feral cat predation is a key threatening process. Feral cat activity was not influenced by small-scale experimental burns, however, this does not preclude an effect of larger scale fires and we recommend further research exploring this possible interaction.

LanguageEnglish
Pages102-109
Number of pages8
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

Fingerprint

Scincidae
burrow
burrows
arid zones
deserts
desert
predator
cats
predators
predation
dingoes
habitat
habitats
snake
foxes
vegetation cover
invasive species
snakes
biodiversity

Keywords

  • feral cats
  • fire
  • habitat modification
  • Liopholis kintorei
  • threatened species

Cite this

Moore, Danae ; Kearney, Michael Ray ; Paltridge, Rachel ; McAlpin, Steve ; Stow, Adam. / Feeling the pressure at home : predator activity at the burrow entrance of an endangered arid-zone skink. In: Austral Ecology. 2018 ; Vol. 43, No. 1. pp. 102-109.
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Feeling the pressure at home : predator activity at the burrow entrance of an endangered arid-zone skink. / Moore, Danae; Kearney, Michael Ray; Paltridge, Rachel; McAlpin, Steve; Stow, Adam.

In: Austral Ecology, Vol. 43, No. 1, 01.02.2018, p. 102-109.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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