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Journal ArticleDOI

Conservation strategy for Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo on the Atherton Tablelands.

01 Jan 2003-Ecological Management and Restoration (http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1442-8903.2003.01691.x)-Vol. 4, Iss: 3, pp 220-221

AbstractLumholtz’s tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) is a large (10 kg max.) arboreal marsupial endemic to the rainforests of north Queensland, Australia. According to museum records, community surveys and spotlighting data, the species is most abundant in higher elevation rainforests (above 700 – 800 m a.s.l.) on the Atherton Tablelands, particularly on fertile basalt soils (Newell 1999; Kanowski et al. 2001a, b). Clearing has reduced the area of this prime habitat for D. lumholtzi from approximately 66 000 ha to 25 000 ha. Extensive areas of prime habitat are now restricted to the Herberton Range on the western edge of the Tablelands (Fig 1).

Topics: Dendrolagus lumholtzi (69%), Tree-kangaroo (56%)

Summary (1 min read)

1. Conserve prime habitat.

  • Most of the remaining areas of prime habitat for D. lumholtzi are protected in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, but these areas are incised and partly fragmented by clearing.
  • These areas could be consolidated by revegetation of cleared land on the margins of the Herberton Range.

2. Protect and consolidate important remnant populations.

  • Major remnant populations of tree-kangaroos occur in the vicinity of Yungaburra State Forest and at the head of the North Johnstone and Barron Rivers (Fig. 1 ).
  • Some of these remnants are privately owned and require protection, e.g. by conservation agreement, regulation or acquisition.
  • In the longer term, the conservation of remnant populations may require measures to increase population size (e.g. the revegetation of land adjacent to remnants) and to improve connectivity with extensive areas of prime habitat.

3. Improve connectivity between remnant populations and extensive areas of prime habitat.

  • The persistence of tree-kangaroos in remnant forests on the Tablelands may depend on the dispersal of individuals from extensive areas of prime habitat, e.g. to maintain genetic diversity (Bowyer et al. 2002) or to recolonise remnants after droughts, cyclones or other catastrophes.
  • While considerable effort has been put into replanting rainforest corridors on the Tablelands (Fig. 1 ), the existing corridor network does not adequately connect remnants with rainforests on the Herberton Range.
  • The authors propose that the corridor network be expanded to include the restoration of riparian vegetation on all major streams with headwaters in the Herberton Range (the Barron and North Johnstone Rivers and their tributaries).
  • This proposal is highly consistent with catchment management strategies for the Tablelands (e.g. NQ Joint Board 1997).

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Conservation strategy for Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo on the
Atherton Tablelands.
Author
Kanowski, J, Winter, JW, Simmons, T, Tucker, NIJ
Published
2003
Journal Title
Ecological Management & Restoration
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1442-8903.2003.01691.x
Copyright Statement
© 2003 Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-
synergy.com
Downloaded from
http://hdl.handle.net/10072/6067
Link to published version
https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1442-8903.2003.01691.x
Griffith Research Online
https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au

Conservation strategy for Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo on the Atherton Tablelands.
J. Kanowski
1
, J.W. Winter
2
, T. Simmons
3
and N. I. J. Tucker
3
(
1
Rainforest CRC,
Environmental Studies, Griffith University, Nathan 4111 Australia;
2
Freelance
Zoologist, P.O. Box 151, Ravenshoe 4872 Australia;
3
Biotropica Australia Pty Ltd, P.O.
Box 866, Malanda 4885 Australia).
Citation details:
Kanowski, J., Winter, J.W., Simmons, T. and Tucker, N.I.J. (2003) Conservation
strategy for Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo on the Atherton Tablelands. Ecological
Management and Restoration. 4, 220-221.
Key words: arboreal mammal, corridors, habitat, rainforest restoration.
Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) is a large (10 kg max.) arboreal
marsupial endemic to the rainforests of north Queensland, Australia. According to
museum records, community surveys and spotlighting data, the species is most
abundant in higher elevation rainforests (above 700 – 800 m a.s.l.) on the Atherton
Tablelands, particularly on fertile basalt soils (Newell 1999; Kanowski et al. 2001a, b).
Clearing has reduced the area of this prime habitat for D. lumholtzi from approximately
66 000 ha to 25 000 ha. Extensive areas of prime habitat are now restricted to the
Herberton Range on the western edge of the Tablelands (Fig 1).
Tree-kangaroos still inhabit many remnant forests on the Tablelands, but their long-term
persistence in this highly modified landscape is threatened by clearing, road-kills and
dog attacks (Newell 1999; Kanowski et al. 2001a). We believe the conservation of tree-
kangaroos in remnant forests on the Tablelands is important because: (1) remnant
forests support a significant proportion of the total population (remnants comprise about

20% of the remaining prime habitat for D. lumholtzi on the Tablelands); (2) remnant
forests provide connectivity between populations on the Herberton Range and
populations to the north and east of the Tablelands; and (3) tree-kangaroos are
becoming increasingly important to residents of the Tablelands, e.g., as an icon of the
local tourist industry.
We propose that the following actions form the basis of a strategy for the conservation
of tree-kangaroos on the Atherton Tablelands:
1. Conserve prime habitat.
Most of the remaining areas of prime habitat for D. lumholtzi are protected in the Wet
Tropics World Heritage Area, but these areas are incised and partly fragmented by
clearing. These areas could be consolidated by revegetation of cleared land on the
margins of the Herberton Range.
2. Protect and consolidate important remnant populations.
Major remnant populations of tree-kangaroos occur in the vicinity of Yungaburra State
Forest and at the head of the North Johnstone and Barron Rivers (Fig. 1). The dispersal
of individuals from these remnants is thought to play an important role in maintaining
populations in the surrounding landscape (Kanowski et al. 2001b). Some of these
remnants are privately owned and require protection, e.g. by conservation agreement,
regulation or acquisition. In the longer term, the conservation of remnant populations
may require measures to increase population size (e.g. the revegetation of land adjacent
to remnants) and to improve connectivity with extensive areas of prime habitat.
3. Improve connectivity between remnant populations and extensive areas of prime
habitat.

The persistence of tree-kangaroos in remnant forests on the Tablelands may depend on
the dispersal of individuals from extensive areas of prime habitat, e.g. to maintain
genetic diversity (Bowyer et al. 2002) or to recolonise remnants after droughts, cyclones
or other catastrophes. While considerable effort has been put into replanting rainforest
corridors on the Tablelands (Fig. 1), the existing corridor network does not adequately
connect remnants with rainforests on the Herberton Range. We propose that the corridor
network be expanded to include the restoration of riparian vegetation on all major
streams with headwaters in the Herberton Range (the Barron and North Johnstone
Rivers and their tributaries). This proposal is highly consistent with catchment
management strategies for the Tablelands (e.g. NQ Joint Board 1997).
References
Bowyer, J. C., Newell G. R. and Eldridge M. D. (2002) Genetic effects of habitat
contraction on Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) in the Australian Wet
Tropics. Conservation Genetics 3, 59-67.
Kanowski J., Felderhof L., Newell G., Parker T., Schmidt C., Wilson R. and Winter
J.W. (2001a) Community survey of the distribution of Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo on the
Atherton Tablelands, north-east Queensland. Pacific Conservation Biology 7, 79-86.
Kanowski J., Hopkins M.S., Marsh H. and Winter J.W. (2001b) Ecological correlates of
folivore abundance in north Queensland rainforests. Wildlife Research 28, 1-8.
Newell G. R. (1999) Australia’s tree-kangaroos: current issues in their conservation.
Biological Conservation 87, 1-12.
NQ Joint Board (1997) Barron River Catchment Rehabilitation Plan. NQ Joint Board,
Cairns.

List of figures
Fig. 1. Map of the Atherton Tablelands showing the distribution of prime habitat of
Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo and the location of existing and proposed rainforest corridors.

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Cites background from "Conservation strategy for Lumholtz'..."

  • ...Longer periods will be required (i.e., 30–70 years) for less intensive plantings such as those favored in r 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Global Change Biology, 17, 186–193 mixed-species cabinet timber production or carbon sequestration models (Kanowski et al., 2003a)....

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Cites background from "Conservation strategy for Lumholtz'..."

  • ...On the Atherton Tableland of far northern Queensland, there has been much investment of time and resources, on the part of government and community groups, to restore vegetation connecting rainforest remnants, particularly along watercourses (Tucker 2000; Kanowski et al. 2003; Freeman 2004; Freeman and Seabrook 2006)....

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  • ...…of far northern Queensland, there has been much investment of time and resources, on the part of government and community groups, to restore vegetation connecting rainforest remnants, particularly along watercourses (Tucker 2000; Kanowski et al. 2003; Freeman 2004; Freeman and Seabrook 2006)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Investigating scat production and scat decomposition patterns to select diagnostic traits of Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo scats that can, under varying environmental conditions, assist in distinguishing between fresh and old scats to reduce false positive and false negative errors in species presence due to non- or/and misidentification of scats.
Abstract: arboreal folivores, such as Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) in Far North Queensland, Australia, scat counts seem to be the most promising ecological technique. However, the occurrence of Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos in seasonal rainforests with dense understory, a high diversity of coprophagous invertebrates and with sympatric folivores increases the probability of invalidating results based on scat surveys. This study investigates scat production and scat decomposition patterns to select diagnostic traits of Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo scats that can, under varying environmental conditions, assist in distinguishing between fresh and old scats to reduce false positive and false negative errors in species presence due to non- or/and misidentification of scats. Scat production rates of six captive Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos were highly variable resulting in different scat numbers and masses. Changes in scat size (mass and circumference), pH and the appearance of mould were monitored under different laboratory conditions and in forest trials. Under wet conditions scats gained mass until they reached an apparent plateau of 130% of their original mass. Scats under dry conditions lost up to 90% of their original mass. Changes in mass were accompanied by changes in circumference of scats. By Day 3 scats had developed signs of mould under laboratory conditions and showed an acidic pH. Field trials revealed a high loss of scats due primarily to their consumption by dung beetles (Scarabaeoidea). For studying Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos in their rainforest environment, scat surveys should be confined to dry periods to reduce the probability of false negative errors due to activity of coprophagous invertebrates. Additionally, only fresh scats of average size and with an acidic pH should be used to minimize the risk of misidentifying small sized scats from Red-legged Pademelons (Thylogale stigmatica) as tree-kangaroo scats. More studies on species-specific diagnostic traits of Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo scats are necessary to validate false negative and false positive errors in scat counts for this species.

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  • ...Studies of these species are therefore problematic and the consequent lack of ecological data limits the development of efficient conservation strategies for these species (Kanowski et al. 2001a, 2003)....

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  • ...With more non-invasive accurate methods at hand, more knowledge on the ecology of Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos can be obtained to support conservation planning for this species (Kanowski et al. 2003)....

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References
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TL;DR: It is shown that only a relatively small proportion of north Queensland rainforests support abundant populations of the endemic folivorous marsupials, and variation in folivore abundance with geology is plausibly explained as a response to the nutritional quality of foliage.
Abstract: The ecological factors controlling the distribution and abundance of the folivorous marsupials endemic to the rainforests of northern Australia are not understood. In this study, we surveyed folivore abundance at 40 sites stratified by altitude and geology in rainforests of the Atherton Tableland, north Queensland. All five species of folivore that inhabit the study area were more abundant in highland (800–1200 m) than in upland (400–800 m) forests. Allowing for the effects of altitude, four species of folivore were more abundant in forests on nutrient-rich basalts than in forests on nutrient-poor acid igneous or metamorphic rocks. The abundance of two folivore species also varied inversely with rainfall. Altitudinal variation in folivore abundance in the study area has been attributed to habitat destruction, Aboriginal hunting, the distribution of host plants and climate; however, none of these hypotheses has been tested. Variation in folivore abundance with geology is plausibly explained as a response to the nutritional quality of foliage. Foliage quality may also explain the inverse relationship between two of the folivores and rainfall. The results of this study show that only a relatively small proportion of north Queensland rainforests support abundant populations of the endemic folivorous marsupials.

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Abstract: Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) and Bennett's tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus bennettianus) are the two largest arboreal folivores in Australia and are both restricted to the tropical rainforests and adjacent forest communities in North Queensland. Both species display cryptic and secretive behaviour, and consequently are poorly studied. Bennett's tree-kangaroos are found within a relatively small area (∼2000 km2) of the Wet Tropics, however the majority of this area is within a protected `World Heritage Area', and consequently the conservation status of this species is considered moderately safe despite its rarity. The overall distribution of Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo, which is also considered rare, covers a larger area (∼5500 km2), which also has considerable overlap with the `World Heritage Area' (WHA). Despite this, the species appears to maintain its highest densities in forest outside the WHA conservation zone. Lumholtz's tree-kangaroos are more commonly found in the fragmented forests on the Atherton Tablelands, and are often associated with remnant and secondary rainforests on basalt soils. These forest communities are considered rare and are poorly represented in existing reserves. This paper considers the conservation issues for both of these species, but focuses particularly on Lumholtz's tree-kangaroos for which more data is available. Issues discussed include the loss of habitat outside the World Heritage Area, road deaths of animals, predation by canids, traditional hunting, and fecundity and recruitment. Measures for the conservation of these species are suggested, including measures for the retention of habitat on private land, public education, translocation and captive breeding. The applicability of research on Australian tree-kangaroos to the conservation of the eight species of tree-kangaroos in Papua New Guinea is also considered.

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TL;DR: The survey has provided a much more comprehensive account of the distribution of the species than was previously available, and although the survey methodology is biased towards areas frequented by humans, these patterns are consistent with independent surveys.
Abstract: Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo Dendrofagus lumholtzi is endemic to the rainforests of north Queensland, Australia. Most records of D. lumholtzi are from upland forests on the Atherton Tablelands, an area -extensively cleared for agriculture. In 1997, residents of the Tablelands formed the Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group Inc. (TKMG) with the aim of promoting the conservation of the species. The first project of TKMG was an intensive community-based survey of the distribution of D. fumholtzi. Residents of all postal districts encompassing areas of upland rainforest within the range of D. lumholtzi were sent a written questionnaire seeking details of tree-kangaroo sightings. The Malanda postal district was surveyed in 1998 while all other postal districts were surveyed in 1999. In total, 10 122 questionnaires were distributed in the survey. Nearly BOO responses were received to the survey, providing 2 36B Sighting records of D. lumholtzi. Of these, 367 records were of dead tree-kangaroos, mostly road-kills." The survey has provided a much more comprehensive account of the distribution of the species than was previously available. Most records of D. lumholtz; obtained in the survey were from upland forests between Atherton and Ravenshoe, particularly remnant forests in the central and western Tablelands. Although the survey methodology is biased towards areas frequented by humans, these patterns are consistent with independent surveys. The conservation of D. lumholtzi on the Tablelands would benefit from the protection of remnant forests, the restoration of habitat and a reduction in the incidence of road-kills and dog attacks on tree-kangaroos.

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TL;DR: Assessment of genetic diversity in D. lumholtzi suggests the species has relatively low levels of diversity which is uniformly distributed throughout the Atherton Tablelands; a pattern congruent with data from many othervertebrates endemic to the Australian Wet Tropics.
Abstract: Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) is one of two species of tree-kangaroo resident in the tropical rainforests of north-eastern Australia The species is confined to the Wet Tropics region, with its distribution centred on the Atherton Tablelands While D lumholtzi was exposed to periodic large-scale climatic fluctuations during the Quaternary that have effectively acted as natural fragmentation events, the species is currently under pressure from anthropogenic disturbance and habitat fragmentation This study aimed to assess the level of genetic diversity in D lumholtzi by examining hypervariable microsatellite loci and the control region of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in 21 individuals from a single 20 ha forest fragment, and from a further 24 animals collected throughout the Atherton Tablelands Results suggest that D lumholtzi has relatively low levels of genetic diversity which is uniformly distributed throughout the Atherton Tablelands; a pattern congruent with data from many other vertebrates endemic to the Australian Wet Tropics It is suggested that Pleistocene climatic fluctuations, which resulted in large-scale rainforest contractions, have imposed an ancient population bottleneck on the ancestral D lumholtzi population The apparent over-riding influence of these natural, historical effects on the genetic structure of D lumholtzi populations, will complicate attempts to assess the genetic impact of current anthropogenic habitat loss and fragmentation

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