Small Australian desert vertebrate responses to grazing intensity during La Niña

Helen Waudby, Sophie Petit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Few studies have examined how grazing intensity affects small Australian desert vertebrates, despite the large extent of the grazing industry and its potential effects on native biota. We examined small reptile, amphibian and mammal responses to two intensities (“grazed” and “less‐grazed”) of cattle grazing in the stony plains system of arid South Australia. The study was undertaken during wet La Niña conditions when abundance of most species was expected to be highest. Total rainfall over the study period was over twice the mean yearly rainfall. Small vertebrates were sampled with pitfall and Elliott traps. Responses of individual species were compared among three grazed and three less‐grazed sites. One agamid species (Ctenophorus gibba) was captured more frequently at grazed sites, and two skink species (Ctenotus olympicus and Menetia greyii) at less‐grazed sites. Mus musculus (an exotic mammal) was caught most frequently at grazed sites. No native mammal species responded to grazing intensity. Low‐moderate livestock grazing in this study system, during periods of high rainfall, did not have a negative effect on most species studied. Complementary studies should compare responses during drought.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-722
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Research
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015

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