News from Gondwana Link

Monday 21 September, 2009

Gondwana Link is a partnership project with participation from Bush Heritage, The Nature Conservancy, The Wilderness Society and Greening Australia (WA), in collaboration with local environment and community organisations, private landowners and traditional owners

An illustration of the scope of Gondwana Link.

An illustration of the scope of Gondwana Link.

The aim of Gondwana Link is to conserve and restore a 1,000 km swathe of forest, woodland, heath and mallee stretching from the forests of Western Australia’s far south-west to the edge of the Nullarbor Plain. Recent monitoring of mammal populations has shown pleasing results, especially in relation to honey possums and black-gloved wallabies.

One way that we measure the results of our conservation work is through our Ecological Outcomes Monitoring (EOM) program. As part of this program, we conduct various annual fauna surveys on several reserves within Gondwana Link.

Because one aim of Gondwana Link is to reconnect fragmented habitat across a large area of landscape, conservation work on the Gondwana Link properties has consequences beyond the individual reserves.

Black-gloved wallaby. Photo Jiri Lochman / Lochman Transparencies.

Black-gloved wallaby. Photo Jiri Lochman / Lochman Transparencies.

As the habitats are rejoined and species are able to move more freely through this landscape, we expect that many species will increase their ‘area of occupancy’ and that eventually we'll see major improvements in the number of species recorded at any given site.

Monitoring in this area has only been underway for a few years, but already we've seen results. Pitfall traps were established in a range of habitats on Chereninup Creek Reserve in 2006.

That year, a lone honey possum was recorded in tall heath with a mix of banksias and dryandras, a preferred habitat. In 2007, honey possums were recorded in mallee-scrub vegetation as well. In the 2008 surveys, honey possums were found in four vegetation types: heath, mallee-scrub, sheoak woodland and at a recently revegetated site, the latter record being particularly encouraging to managers.

It appears that the revegetation on Chereninup Creek Reserve is re-creating usable habitat for honey possums and contributing to a local expansion of their range.

Also on Gondwana Link, a separate project is monitoring changes in the distribution and abundance of the tammar wallaby and the black-gloved wallaby. This project is also showing exciting results.

Freshwater pool and granite outcrop, Chereninup Creek Reserve. Photo Chinch Gryniewicz.

Freshwater pool and granite outcrop, Chereninup Creek Reserve. Photo Chinch Gryniewicz.

Twenty monitoring sites were set up across a part of the Corackerup Creek catchment within Gondwana Link, with two of the sites on Bush Heritage reserves. Sites were surveyed using spotlighting from a vehicle. Motion-sensing cameras were also set up at various sites to record animal visitors.

During the 2008 survey period, the black-gloved wallaby was detected at 6 of the 18 sites surveyed. Of the occupied sites, the species had been previously recorded within the last year on only two of these sites, and on one of these sites way back in 1980.

Although no tammar wallabies have been recorded at the monitoring sites, one was recently photographed on Monjebup Reserve, indicating that they're present in the area.

Indications from the more widespread blackgloved wallaby are that they may not be as limited by fox predation as was previously thought. Observations of this species within revegetated areas suggest that habitat restoration work may well be making a difference to their ability to move through the landscape.

Based on material from Mal Graham, former Contract Reserve Manager for Bush Heritage’s reserves in south-west Western Australia, and Sandra Gilfillan, Wallaby Project Officer for the Gondwana Link/Greening Australia (WA) Wallaby Project. 

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