The use of nest boxes by arboreal marsupials in the forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria

D. B. Lindenmayer*, C. I. MacGregor, R. B. Cunningham, R. D. Incoll, M. Crane, D. Rawlins, D. R. Michael

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    41 Citations (Scopus)


    The results are reported of a nest-box study conducted in two locations in the mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria (south-eastern Australia) to compare usage of different nest-box designs located at different heights in trees. A total of 96 nest boxes was established using a rigorous experimental design - two regions (Powelltown and Toolangi State Forests), two forest age classes (20-year post-logging regrowth and 60-year fire- and salvage-logging regrowth), two nest-box designs (large boxes with large entrance holes and small boxes with small entrance holes), and two heights at which nest boxes were attached to trees (3 m and 8 m above the ground). The study entailed setting out four nest boxes at each of 24 sites to meet the design criteria. Evidence of occupancy by vertebrates was recorded in a total of 19 of 96 boxes on 11 of 24 sites site during regular inspections over more than three years. Thirteen boxes were used by Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri), six by the mountain brushtail possum (Trichosurus cunninghami) and seven by the common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus). The common ringtail possum and mountain brushtail possum were seen only in high-large boxes but Leadbeater's possum used all but the low-large boxes. There was evidence of spatial dependence in usage patterns, with all four boxes at a given site showing signs of eventually being occupied. Only two nest boxes located in mountain ash forest regenerating after the 1939 wildfires were occupied. Relatively limited use of nest boxes supports concerns about the use of a nest box over large scales and long timeframes as an effective recovery tool for species threatened by the loss and subsequent shortage in the numbers of naturally occurring hollows.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)259-264
    Number of pages6
    JournalWildlife Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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