New real estate for Darwin tree mammals

20-Mar-2017

CDU PhD candidate Cara Penton installs a custom-made nest box in a tree at the Casuarina woodland

CDU PhD candidate Cara Penton installs a custom-made nest box in a tree at the Casuarina woodland


Researchers are providing refuge for endangered Top End mammals by installing 20 nest boxes in Casuarina woodlands.

Charles Darwin University research associate Dr Leigh-Ann Woolley said the handmade wooden boxes would house tree-dwelling mammals affected by a suspected shortage of hollows in the area, due to cyclone damage.

Dr Woolley said trees could take up to 250 years to develop hollows of more than 10 cm in diameter, which were suited to possums and black-footed tree-rats. 

“These nest boxes will provide artificial tree hollows while the woodland recovers from the damage caused by Cyclone Tracy in 1974,” she said.

Dr Woolley said the boxes were installed about three metres above the ground to avoid the flame zone, and were north-facing so they kept as cool as possible.

CDU Maintenance manager Jonathan Gibson and his son Alex, 16, recently built the boxes with treated pine that could withstand rot and termite infestation and had a nine centimetre entrance hole.

The initiative was organised by a team of Research Institute of the Environment and Livelihoods researchers led by Dr Brett Murphy and by Facilities Management, and is a Conservation on Campus project.