Smoky Mouse Reintroduction

Project: Other

Description

The smoky mouse Pseudomys fumeus is a small native rodent, endemic to mainland Australia. The species is currently listed as endangered nationally and critically endangered in NSW. The Office of Environment and Heritage NSW (OEH) is managing the conservation of the smoky mouse in the Nullica state forest and South-east Forest National Park, Nullica section, NSW. The project aims to secure the species in the wild for 100 years, and comes following recent severe population declines that are largely attributed to cat predation, logging disturbance and habitat degradation due to Phytophthora infestation (Ford et al., 2003, Ford and Broome, 2005, Menkhorst and Broome, 2007). In recent years, detection of the species has become so incredibly rare in the area that the current population is estimated to not exceed 200 individuals (L. Broome pers. comm., March 2018). Under these circumstances, it is unlikely that the Nullica smoky mouse population will persist without intervention. Areas of critical smoky mouse habitat importance within the region are now being recognised and protected against further damage from logging, and exotic predator controls such as trapping of cats and foxes and fox baiting are also in place. A smoky mouse captive-breeding program is currently underway (Priam PTY LTD), and translocation of the captive-bred population back into the Nullica Smoky Mouse Species Management Planning Area (Forests NSW DECC 2008) is proposed to increase population size and restore their range within the Nullica region. Dr Linda Broome (from OEH) has set aside funding to cover costs of the captive breeding and reintroduction program, as well as a PhD student (scholarship + project costs).

Competency of PhD candidate
I, Kristen Abicair, completed a BSc, biology, at Macquarie University NSW, and an honours research degree at the Australian National University ACT. My honours research project investigated postrelease ecology and population genetics of the reintroduced New Holland Mouse at Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary ACT, under the supervision of Dr Sam Banks (ANU), Professor Adrian Manning (ANU), and Dr Fred Ford (Department of Defence). I graduated with first class honours and was awarded the Chancellors commendation for outstanding academic achievement. I am currently working on turning my honours thesis into a published paper. Outside my academic studies, I have extensive experience in animal husbandry within various organisations, I have worked independently as a molecular ecology research assistant at ANU, and recently I spent 8 months working in a captive breeding facility that focuses on breeding for wild-release and conservation.

The research project
Foremost, this PhD project will explore the behaviour, biology and ecology of the smoky mouse in both the captive-breeding colony and then the reintroduced population, with two main objectives: (1) secure a large, viable captive colony, by investigating how best to manipulate a captive environment in order to maximise reproductive success and fitness of offspring; and (2) ensure wild persistence, by developing management strategies to maximise post-release survival and population persistence in the area. Years 1-2 of the project will focus on the captive-breeding colony, years 2-4 will investigate ecology and survival of the reintroduced population. Project cost estimates are as follows: Travel and accommodation to the release site (
Short titleAbicair Scholarship
AcronymASSM
StatusActive
Effective start/end date22/02/1930/06/21