Goannas return to mine site

Animals play critical roles in ecosystems, but they are broadly overlooked in assessments of mine site restoration success says Sophie Cross, an ecologist at Curtin University.

She tracked Australia’s largest lizard species, the perentie, using VHF radio and GPS tracking, and walked hundreds of kilometres through unmined and restoration bushland on a mine site in the mid-west region of Western Australia for her study published in the Australian Journal of Zoology.

Over 60 000 mine sites across Australia have been identified as abandoned, however the number of these known to be restored and officially closed is minimal.

In assessments of mine site restoration success, monitoring plants is common but monitoring animals is uncommon, with the assumption that they will return following the return of vegetation.

Understanding the behavioural responses of animals to habitat change and restoration is key to their conservation.

Sophie Cross, Curtin University

Sophie found that while facilitating the return of the perentie, restoration areas may lack some key resources such as refuges and microhabitats, and these areas were used with increased selectivity in comparison to the reference bushland.

She says that returning refuges such as hollow logs in areas undergoing restoration may aid in facilitating the long term return of sustainable animal population.

For the full Curtin University press release, click here.

Further reading:

Cross SL, Tomlinson S, Craig MD, Dixon KW, Bateman PW. 2019. Overlooked and undervalued: the neglected role of fauna and a global bias in ecological restoration assessments. Pacific Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1071/PC18079

Cross S.L., Craig M.D., Tomlinson S., and Bateman P.W. (2019). I don’t like crickets, I love them. Invertebrates are an important prey source for varanid lizards. Journal of Zoology.

Cross S.L., Bateman P.W., and Cross A.T. (2019). Restoration goals: why are fauna still overlooked in the process of recovering functional ecosystems, and what can be done about it? Ecological Management and Restoration.