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Targeted surveys for cryptic species

Designing surveys to determine habitat values for cryptic species over large project areas is a particular challenge in environmental assessment.

In 2011, BAAM designed targeted trapping surveys for two rarely recorded marsupials, Carpentarian pseudantechinus and Julia Creek Dunnart, for a 1,000 km long powerline project in north-western Queensland. Selection of trapping sites was guided by predictive habitat mapping developed for the project based on the known habitat requirements of the species. Both species were trapped during the surveys, including Carpentarian pseudantechinus at four separate sites. The success of the survey is borne out by the fact that only six specimens of this rare mammal had previously been recorded in Queensland.

The results of this study show how carefully designed surveys can meet Commonwealth requirements for surveying rare and threatened species over a large study area. Judicious consideration of all aspects of a species’ ecology, prior to survey design, is critical to achieving the best possible outcomes. This has obvious benefits for the client, regulator and species of concern.

Further reading: Lloyd, P., Sanders, M., Reis, T. & Abbott, A. (2013). Targeted trapping surveys shed new light on the distribution and habitat characteristics of the Carpentarian pseudantechinus (Pseudantechinus mimulus), a threatened dasyurid marsupial. In Australian Mammalogy, online only. For a copy of this paper please contact: penn@baamecology.com