Can wooden poles be used to reconnect habitat for a gliding mammal?
Ball, TM & Goldingay, RL 2008, 'Can wooden poles be used to reconnect habitat for a gliding mammal?', Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 87, no. 2, pp. 140-146.
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Publisher's version of article available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2008.05.007
This study describes the first attempt in the world to use timber poles to provide habitat connectivity for a gliding mammal. The Australian squirrel glider Petaurus norfolcensis is a small tree-dependent gliding marsupial whose habitat is characterized by ongoing fragmentation. We installed five 12 m-high poles across a 70 m gap that had existed between two woodland remnants for over 45 years. Our aims were to determine whether animals were able to use the poles for gliding and to travel between the remnants. We released 22 animals onto the poles at night. All animals readily climbed and glided from the poles. Five individuals successfully glided pole-to-pole on initial release. Squirrel gliders were captured in both remnants only after pole erection and two were trapped on poles. One radio-collared individual was observed gliding pole-to-pole to reach the non-home remnant where it foraged on two separate nights. Petaurus hair was detected on several poles by hair-sampling devices in four separate periods up to 12 months after radio-tracking and trapping had ceased. Our observations suggest that wooden poles may assist gliding mammals to traverse open areas between habitat patches and have the potential to be used as a rapid technique to reconnect severed habitat.