Welcome to the Threatened Species Recovery Hub

We undertake research to support the recovery of Australia’s threatened species and ecological communities.

To do this we work closely with over 200 on-ground partners across the country, including government agencies, national parks, conservation groups, Indigenous land managers, farmers and community groups.

Our network includes around 150 of Australia’s leading environmental scientists who are delivering more than 100 research projects over six years (ending 2021).

We are supported by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program.

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Diet of the introduced red fox Vulpes vulpes in Australia: analysis of temporal and spatial patterns

  1. The red fox Vulpes vulpes is one of the world’s most widespread carnivores. A key to its success has been its broad, opportunistic diet. The fox was introduced to Australia about 150 years ago, and within 30 years of its introduction was already recognised as a threat to livestock and native wildlife.
  2. We reviewed 85 fox diet studies (totalling 31693 samples) from throughout the species’ geographic range within Australia. Mammals were a major component of fox diet, being present in 70 ± 19% of samples across n = 160 locations. Invertebrates (38 ± 26% n = 130) and plant material (26 ± 25% n = 123) were also both staple foods and often the dominant food category recorded. Birds (13 ± 11% n = 137) and reptiles (10 ± 15% n = 132) were also commonly reported, while frogs were scarcely represented (1.6 ± 3.6% n = 111) in fox diet studies.
  3. Biogeographical differences reveal factors that likely determine prey availability. Diet composition varied with ecosystem, level of vegetation clearing and condition, and climate zone.
  4. Sample type (i.e. stomach versus scat samples) also significantly influenced reporting of diet composition. Livestock and frogs were underrepresented in records based on analysis of scats, whereas small mammals (native rodents, dasyurid marsupials, and bats) were more likely to be recorded in studies of scats than in studies of stomach contents.
  5. Diet varied seasonally, reflecting activity patterns of prey species and food availability. This synthesis also captures temporal shifts in fox diet over 70 years (1951–2020), as foxes have switched to consuming more native species in the wake of successful broadscale biological control of the invasive European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus.
  6. Diet analyses, such as those summarised in this review, capture the evidence required to motivate for greater control of foxes in Australia. This synthesis also highlights the importance of integrated pest species management to meet biodiversity conservation outcomes.

Environmental factors influencing the distribution of the Kangaroo Island dunnart (Sminthopsis fuliginosus aitkeni)

Determining the factors that drive the distributions of threatened species is often critical for informing effective conservation management actions. Species distribution models can be used to distinguish common habitat features shared by limited historical records and identify other areas where a species might persist. In this study, we built a species distribution model for the Endangered and cryptic Kangaroo Island dunnart (Sminthopsis fuliginosus aitkeni). We fitted generalised linear models using incidental records and presence-absence data from surveys between 1969 and 2018. In the models we included the variables rainfall, percentage native vegetation in the surrounding 2 km2, and post-fire vegetation age. The modelling suggested that rainfall and to a lesser extent post-fire vegetation age are good predictors of dunnart occurrence, with dunnart occurrence greatest in areas of high rainfall (>600 mm) and vegetation age classes <30 years post fire. Potentially suitable habitat for the KI dunnart was predicted to be on the central-western side of Kangaroo Island. These results suggest that careful fire management could benefit the dunnart, and that decreased rainfall (as projected by Australian climate models), will be a threat in the long term. Extensive recent fires on western Kangaroo Island suggest that climate-related threats are already being realised.