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The value of ‘bat boxes’ for attracting hollow-dependent fauna to farm forestry plantations in southeast Queensland

Authors

  • Geoffrey C. Smith,

  • Gordon Agnew


  • The work described in this report was initiated by the authors when they worked with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries. Geoffrey Smith now works with Forest Ecosystem Research and Assessment, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (80 Meiers Rd, Indooroopilly, Qld 4068, Australia.

  • Email: geoffrey.smith@env.qld.gov.au) and Gordon Agnew 12 Windsor Avenue, Moffat Beach, Qld 4551.

Abstract

Summary Small artificial nest/roost boxes, originally designed for microbats, were deployed in three farm forest plantations and at one native forest site in southeast Queensland in order to assess their use by vertebrates and their contribution toward enhancing biodiversity in plantation forests through the provision of habitat. Two sites were located in a relatively ‘intact’ forest landscape (SF 351 and Strano) and two sites in a more ‘fragmented’ or ‘variegated’ landscape (Askham and Thomas). Twenty-four boxes were placed at each site over an area covering approximately 1.2–1.8 ha. Each site was checked from five (SF 351) to nine (Askham) times between April 1996 and November 2000. The artificial nest/roost boxes were attractive to a range of small fauna that included Feathertail Gliders (Acrobates pygmaeus), Sugar Gliders (Petaurus breviceps), Squirrel Gliders (Petaurus norfolcensis) and the Yellow-footed Marsupial Mouse (Antechinus flavipes), all of which constructed nests inside boxes. Gould’s Long-eared Bats (Nyctophilus gouldi) used boxes primarily as roosts and maternity sites. In general, fewer animals were recorded in boxes at the two sites located within a relatively ‘intact’ landscape, while the highest numbers of animals were recorded in boxes in two farm forest plantations within ‘variegated’ landscapes. The availability of alternative natural hollows and landscape factors appear to be important determinants of the extent to which boxes are occupied. The present study indicates that the biodiversity of farm forests can be enhanced through simple habitat manipulation utilizing artificial roosting or nesting boxes.

Key words Antechinus, biodiversity, farm forestry, glider, marsupial, microbat, nest box, roost.

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