Catching Mulgara in the Pilbara – how much trapping is necessary

In December 2013 Terrestrial Ecosystems presented at the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) workshop on Mulgara. Terrestrial Ecosystems presentation described the outcomes of four case studies completed in the Pilbara. Conclusions from the case studies were that:

  • searching in mature, high or dense spinifex and low shrubs resulted in many burrows not being detected;
  • it was relatively easy to misidentify burrows used by Mulgara;
  • mulgara passed multiple baited traps on multiple nights before they were caught;
  • in a high density population of Mulgara, a minimum of 200 trap-nights/individual were necessary to capture most Mulgara; and
  • five nights of trapping was insufficient to catch all Mulgara in an area when traps were placed at 25m centres.

Terrestrial Ecosystems recommended that:

  • assuming that Mulgara are living in burrows, searches to record the presence of Mulgara in an area should only occur when:
    • the height of spinifex or shrubs is less than 500mm;
    • the vegetation cover is less than 40%; and
    • the search effort is greater than two persons/ha/hr.
  • in areas where the height of spinifex and shrubs is greater than 500mm and the vegetation cover is greater 40%, then the area should be trapped instead of grid searched;
  • the minimum trapping effort to detect or remove all Mulgara from an area should be 16 traps/ha (25m centres) with traps set for a minimum of 7 nights; and
  • when the purpose of the trapping program is to catch all/or record all Mulgara in an area, trapping should cease when no Mulgara have been caught within 400mm of the trap for three consecutive nights.

These data have now been accepted for publication and the paper can be downloaded here or via the CSIRO website.

Further details on the presentation are available following this link.

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