Dramatic decline to mammal populations reach critical point

May 30, 2014 by Pepita Smyth
Dramatic decline to mammal populations reach critical point

The results of a research project examining the dramatic decline in native mammals in northern Australia was revealed at the Australian Veterinary Association's (AVA) Annual Conference.

Dr Andrea Reiss from Murdoch University, who is part of the project team, said that little is known of the role disease plays in the alarming decline of small to medium sized mammals in the Northern Territory.

"We're not certain if disease is a key threat to declining wildlife populations or whether the declines are due primarily to other factors such as changing fire regimes or the influence of introduced predators such as feral cats.

"What we do know is that if continue to decline and mammal populations become more isolated, then the genetic diversity of species will diminish, making them more vulnerable to the negative impacts of disease.

"We need to understand the current role of disease in declining mammal populations to gain an understanding of its likely impact in the future," she said.

The disease investigation team is focusing its research efforts on four main sites within the Northern Territory's Top End. These study sites represent locations with stable mammal populations, those with populations currently undergoing a decline and those with populations anticipated to soon experience decline.

Four target species are being examined: the brush-tailed possum, northern brown bandicoot, northern quoll and brush-tailed rabbit-rat.

Explore further: Scaly-tailed possum re-discovered in Kimberley

Related Stories

Introducing species to change ecosystems is a balancing act

September 25, 2013

Species hold ecosystems in a delicate balance. From time to time humans introduce non-native species to an ecosystem, because they may be needed for domestic work, as pets, for carrying loads or even for killing previously ...

Survey set to prove northern fish disease-free

March 5, 2014

A joint study about to begin will determine whether populations of freshwater catfish in the country's tropical and sub-tropical regions are free of the Edwardsiella ictaluri bacterium.

Small Australian marsupials in sudden decline

May 7, 2014

Small, furry marsupials such as the bandicoot, quoll and tree possums are in dramatic decline in Australia's north and feral cats could be the cause, according to analysis reported Wednesday.

Recommended for you

A better way to read the genome

October 9, 2015

UConn researchers have sequenced the RNA of the most complicated gene known in nature, using a hand-held sequencer no bigger than a cell phone.

Threat posed by 'pollen thief' bees uncovered

October 9, 2015

A new University of Stirling study has uncovered the secrets of 'pollen thief' bees - which take pollen from flowers but fail to act as effective pollinators - and the threat they pose to certain plant species.

Mapping the protein universe

October 9, 2015

To understand how life works, figure out the proteins first. DNA is the architect of life, but proteins are the workhorses. After proteins are built using DNA blueprints, they are constantly at work breaking down and building ...


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.