23 October 2017
October 24, 2017
Native marsupials reintroduced in south-western Australia are a threat to ground-dwelling birds, a University of Queensland study has found.
Researcher Graham Fulton said ground-nesting and ground-dwelling birds had generally declined at a greater rate than other Australian bird groups, with the loss of eggs believed to be an important factor.
"We don't know a lot about the identity of ground-nest predators," he said.
Mr Fulton, a PhD student in the UQ School of Biological Sciences, said his research at Dryandra, south-east of Perth, highlighted the need for a greater understanding of the impacts of reintroducing native marsupials.
"Marsupials are not generally regarded as potential nest-predators of these birds, partly because the biology of rare Australian marsupials is not fully understood due to their rarity," he said.
The study found that three marsupials – boodie and woylie bettongs (Australian rat kangaroos) and brushtail possums (pictured right and left) – took eggs from artiﬁcial nests similar to those of the threatened painted button quail (pictured below right).
"Approximately one-third of the eggs were taken by the two bettongs and another third by brushtail possums," Mr Fulton said.