Research projects

Research

Research

La Trobe University has shown a strong commitment to the conservation and protection of indigenous animals and plants through their continued management of the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary. Over the 50 years of management, a considerable amount of research has been conducted. Some of the more recent research and practical investigations have been:

  • aquatic macroinvertebrate comparisons between wetlands with and without mosquito fish
  • parasitic behaviour in various bat species
  • behaviour and time budgeting of the Michrochiropteran species, Gould's wattle bat (Chalinolobus gouldii), within artificial roost sites
  • Mycorrhizal associations of Danthonia species and their effect on plant growth.

Research Snapshots

Reproductive ecology of the Gould’s wattled bat (Chalinolobus gouldii)

The aim of this study is to understand the reproductive ecology of an urban adapter species, the Gould's wattled bat (Chalinolobus gouldii), and what makes it a successful species.

Urban expansion is occurring rapidly worldwide, but our understanding of the effects of urbanisation on wildlife is poor. The success of some species in urban habitats provides invaluable insight into evolutionary and selective processes that make them successful. Understanding the life-history strategies around reproduction is key to understanding the drivers associated with a species success in changing environments. The Gould’s wattled bat (Chalinolobus gouldii) has successfully adapted to urban environments. This project will build on knowledge gained through an existing monitoring program by investigating the mating system, reproductive biology and population genetic structure of Gould’s wattled bats in Melbourne.

Evaluating the effectiveness of a tactile deterrent for Trichosurus vulpeca

A number of deterrents have been developed as a minimal impact solution to reducing conflicts between Brushtail Possums and People in urban environments. Shannon Braun’s project tests tactile (feel) repellents as a solution. A number of stations will be set up in locations in and outside the Wildlife Sanctuary with platforms where animals can be discretely monitored using infrared cameras.Possum-Picture-Web

Investigating factors influencing the occupancy of artificial roosting boxes by tree-roosting insectivorous bats

Bats are among the most threatened fauna in Australia. Day-roost sites have been identified as a key limiting resource for bat conservation, yet we know almost nothing about how roosts are chosen. Artificial roost boxes (bat-boxes) are a common tool of bat conservation projects, yet so far they are infrequently used in Australia. To improve bat box value, we need a clearer understanding of how bat-box design and placement (and hence internal microclimate) affects their suitability to bats during critical times of the year (e.g. breeding season and winter hibernation).

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Depth of pitfall traps—does it affect interpretation of ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) assemblages?

The ecological context and consequences of colonisation of a site by bell miners (Manorina melanophrys)

Bell miner (Manorina melanophrys) colonies are closely associated with decreased avian abundance and diversity and an apparently associated increase in psyllid abundance. However, a causative link between the presence of bell miners and increased psyllid abundance had yet to be established.

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Plant exudates: a previously unreported feature in the diet of the common ringtail possum

David De Angelis explores gummivory in the diet of common ringtail possums.

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