Biodiversity in your backyard
Patricia A. Fleming, Catherine Baudains, Bonnie Beal-Richardson, Gillian L. Bryant, Kate Bryant, Amanda Kristancic, Janine Kuehs, Giles E. St.J. Hardy
Understanding more about urban wildlife will help ensure that our city remains such a special place to live. Our suburbs provide important refuges for animals such as the quenda, Isoodon fusciventer, our local endemic bandicoot species. These diggers perform important services in turning over soil, distributing beneficial fungi that help plants grow, and even speed up litter decomposition thus reducing fuel loads. Close examination of quenda in Mandurah backyards has revealed characteristics of reserves and gardens that are regularly visited by quenda. Quenda are more likely to use urban reserves and gardens without dogs and they are more likely to select gardens that have less paving and more medium density vegetation cover. Following the paths quenda take through bushes has also revealed the structure of vegetation they prefer to use. These results have helped us identify nursery plants that would improve habitat quality for quenda and can help residents restructure their gardens to accommodate these important visitors. Understanding the use of artificial refuges can also aid quenda conservation. These actions will help bring biodiversity back into our backyards.
I am a wildlife biologist. I work on projects that have a practical application – where improving our understanding of animal physiology (e.g. diet) and behaviour (e.g. habitat selection) can improve their conservation or welfare. I am more interested in the questions than the organisms, and my research has tested a wide range of scientific hypotheses using organisms from crickets through to giraffes.