Northern Quoll – research priorities for the Pilbara

Northern Quoll foot

On 30 July 2013, DPaW hosted a workshop to determine the highest-priority research needs to ensure the survival of viable populations of Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) in the Pilbara, WA. It was a very successful workshop with participants from government, universities, environmental consultants and the mining industry participating. An independent facilitator did a great job in keeping the workshop focused on the task. The research priorities developed at this workshop have now been published (Cramer et al. 2016) in Australian Mammalogy.

The research priorities agreed to at the workshop are:

  1. Develop appropriate and standardised survey and monitoring methods
  2. Improve our understanding of habitat requirements
    a. Define areas of critical habitat for the Northern Quoll in the Pilbara
    b. Understand how disturbance affects habitat quality and connectivity
  3. Population dynamics
    a. Better understand the population dynamics of the Northern Quoll in the Pilbara
    b. Investigate population structure and the interaction between populations
  4. Key threats and the interaction of these threats
    a. Introduced predators
    b. Cane toads
    c. Infrastructure development and interactions with humans
    d. Interaction between threats
  5. Recolonisation of restored and/or artificial habitat

First priority – Develop appropriate and standardised survey and monitoring methods

The Department of Parks is currently working on draft guidelines for surveying Northern Quolls. This will be based on data that the DPaW has collected which will answer questions such as:

  • What is the preferred bait type?
  • Which is better – cameras or cage traps, or is a combination required?
  • What is the optimum trap size and type?
  • How many traps and trapping nights are required per unit area (i.e. linear and square) to adequately determine the total number of Northern Quolls present at a particular time?
  • How easy is it to trap Northern Quolls and what is the variability among individuals in trapability?
  • What is the home range and activity area, and average daily distance moved by Northern Quolls, and how does this information affect trapping/camera protocols?
  • How does the breeding cycle impact on when Northern Quoll surveys or monitoring should be undertaken?
  • What is/are the preferred location(s) for traps/cameras to maximise detection success?
  • If cameras are used, what is the preferred protocol for deploying cameras?

The Department of Parks and Wildlife is planning a follow up workshop on Northern Quolls possibly sometime later this year. It is anticipated this workshop will provide details on what has been achieved since the 2013 workshop and how this newly acquired knowledge can be used to enhance the long-term survival of Northern Quolls in the Pilbara and provide management measures that proponents of development can implement to minimise impacts on this species. Stay tuned!!

Click this link to see a short video of a Northern Quoll being released during a monitoring program in the Pilbara.

searching for NQ via radiotracking

References

Cramer, V. A., J. Dunlop, R. Davis, R. Ellis, B. Barnett, A. Cook, K. Morris, and S. van Leeuwen. 2016. Research priorities for the northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Australian Mammalogy.

Photo credit: Top – Northern Quoll foot; bottom – radio tracking Northern Quoll in the Pilbara

Print Friendly

Comments

Got something to say?