BANDICOOTS could face a localised extinction unless more action is taken to protect their habitat, says a Murdoch professor.
Giles Hardy says many animals and plants are become stressed by Perth’s ever-expanding suburbs and disappearing bushland, which is leading to increased disease and less protection from introduced species such as cats and foxes.
Issues affecting Perth’s urban wildlife and bushlands will be discussed at a natural area management forum at Cockburn this Tuesday.
“If we don’t do anything we will continue to lose many plants and many of our native animals,” Prof Hardy says.
Assoc Prof Trish Fleming says bandicoots have already disappeared north of the Swan River and a research paper recently found that three of the state’s eight species of bandicoot are extinct.
Dieback is posing another threat to bandicoots, as well as trees, Prof Hardy says.
The disease kills plants and trees throughout the south of WA and can be spread by cyclists and cars.
“Bandicoots are a fairly resilient species in the urban space but if Phytopthora continues to impact, they will lose their refuge, their habitat, where they hide and nest,” Prof Hardy said.
“Bandicoots are very important because they are digging animals. They provide a lot of services; turning soil over, incorporating soils and making it more wettable, so we don’t get shedding water.
“They also spread beneficial fungi around that many tree species need in order to survive.”
Prof Hardy says communication and education are keys to retaining bushland in the city.
“We need to stop developers tearing down big trees… we need more agitation, so this doesn’t happen to the extent that it’s happening,” he says.
Good hygiene is important to prevent the spread of dieback, he says, so bans on driving or riding through infested areas should be considered.
Prof Hardy says it might be a good idea to convert part of Perth’s under-utilised parks into bushland, saying open space and bush were equally important for people’s wellbeing.
WALGA’s natural area management network forum on urban fauna management will be on August 30 at Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre.
by KORO BROWN