Eastern bettongs bounce back

Jun 04, 2012
Eastern bettongs bounce back
An Eastern bettong by Dr Adrian Manning.

(Phys.org) -- The release of Eastern bettongs from Tasmania into the ACT’s predator-proof sanctuary at Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve last week, could be the key to help recover endangered Box Gum grassy woodlands, according to research from The Australian National University.

Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow Dr. Adrian Manning from the Fenner School of Environment and Society, part of the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, said bettongs (Bettongia gaimardi) are considered to be ‘ecosystem engineers’, but became extinct in the woodlands of mainland Australia more than 80 years ago due to feral predators, habitat loss and eradication by humans.

“By disturbing the earth while digging for truffles and other native fungi, these small marsupials turn over large quantities of soil, which leads to improvements in the infiltration of water and nutrients, and helps seedling germination and the spread of fungal spores that are critical to woodland health,” Dr. Manning said.

“Our team of ecologists is trying to understand how these reintroduced animals impact on woodland ecosystems, and then examine if they can be used by land managers as an ecological restoration tool to repair Box Gum grassy woodlands.”

The reintroduction of Eastern Bettongs is part of a larger research project, The Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo Woodland Experiment, which is led by Dr. Manning.

The experiment is examining effective ways to restore grassy woodlands in a partnership between the ACT Government, CSIRO and the James Hutton Institute in Scotland. The project is taking place at the Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo Nature Reserves on the northern edge of the ACT.

“Together the reserves are an important ‘outdoor laboratory’ for learning about the restoration of grassy woodlands. The research on bettongs and other restoration treatments should provide the ACT Government and other managers of woodlands with sound evidence to better conserve one of Australia’s most endangered ecological communities,” Dr. Manning said.

“We hope the project will be a catalyst for changing thinking about how to rebuild our lost ecosystems and secure the future for the threatened species that are dependent upon woodland habitats.”

The project is funded by the Australian Research Council and ACT Government, and has been running since 2004.

Explore further: Fish found in suspected tsunami debris boat quarantined

More information:

Related Stories

Rare bettongs return to mainland

Nov 03, 2011

The rare eastern bettong (Bettongia gaimardi) has returned to the Australian mainland, after an absence of over 80 years.

Plants protect from climate impacts

Aug 02, 2011

Native vegetation must be restored to protect Australia’s unique ecosystems from the impacts of climate change, according to scientists from the Australian National University.

Big trees boost city life

Feb 03, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research from The Australian National University has revealed for the first time the role large trees play in sustaining biodiversity and bird life in urban environments.

Butterfly data to help guide restoration work

Jun 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- “Butterflies are Free,” so the old song and movie title says, but thanks to researchers at UALR’s Department of Biology in the College of Science and Mathematics, they also ...

Recommended for you

Fish found in suspected tsunami debris boat quarantined

11 hours ago

The wreckage of a fishing boat that appears to be debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami was carrying some unexpected passengers—fish from Japanese waters—when it was spotted off the Oregon coast.

Roadkill hot spots identified in California

17 hours ago

An interactive map shows how California's state highway system is strewn with roadkill "hot spots," which are identified in a newly released report by the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Da ...

Tagging and scanning for feral pigs

19 hours ago

Innovative research using GPS tracking and thermal imagery is being used in an attempt to manage the destructive behaviour of feral pigs in the south-west.

Mexico boosts protection of near-extinct porpoise

Apr 17, 2015

Mexico is greatly expanding a protected area of the Gulf of California and boosting navy patrols in an effort to save the vaquita marina, a small porpoise facing imminent extinction.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.