Characteristics of tree hollows used by Australian arboreal and scansorial mammals

Document Type


Publication details

Goldingay, RL 2012, 'Characteristics of tree hollows used by Australian arboreal and scansorial mammals', Australian Journal of Zoology, vol. 59, no. 5, pp. 277-294.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



Many species of non-flying mammal depend on tree hollows (cavities or holes) for shelter and survival. I reviewed the published literature on tree hollow use by Australian non-flying arboreal and scansorial mammals to provide a synthesis of tree hollow requirements, to identify gaps in knowledge and to stimulate future research that may improve the management of these species. The use of hollows was described in some detail for 18 of 42 hollow-using species. Most information was for possums and gliding possums, whereas dasyurid marsupials and rodents were largely neglected. The paucity of data for many species must be addressed because it represents an impediment to their conservation. Hollow abundance appears to be the primary determinant of tree preferences. This accounts for the frequent use of standing dead trees by most species. Most hollow-bearing trees used as dens were at least 100 years of age. Further studies that describe the dynamic processes that govern the availability of tree hollows are needed. The few studies that document attrition of hollow-bearing trees suggest that land managers need to improve strategies for the effective retention and long-term replacement of these trees.