Will arboreal mammals use rope-bridges across a highway in eastern Australia?

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Goldingay, RL, Rohweder, D & Taylor, BD 2013, 'Will arboreal mammals use rope-bridges across a highway in eastern Australia?', Australian Mammalogy, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 30-38.

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Artificial structures designed to promote road-crossing by arboreal mammals are increasingly being installed in Australia but there is a limited understanding of their usefulness. We studied five 50–70-m-long rope-bridges (encompassing three designs) erected across the Pacific Highway, a major freeway in eastern Australia. Native arboreal mammals showed a willingness to explore these structures, being detected by camera traps on four rope-bridges. The vulnerable squirrel glider (Petaurus norfolcensis) crossed on one rope-bridge at least once every 4.5 weeks over a 32-week period. The feathertail glider (Acrobates pygmaeus), common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) and the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) were detected on one of two rope-bridges that extended under the freeway at creek crossings. The feathertail glider was detected on all three rope-bridge designs. Our results suggest that rope-bridges have the potential to restore habitat connectivity disrupted by roads for some arboreal mammals. Further research is needed to refine the design and placement of rope-bridges as well as to determine whether these structures promote gene flow.

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