ABSTRACT

A survey of vertebrate fauna was conducted in the lowlands of Clemant State Forest, a 5430 ha area of land that lies at the southern extremity of the Wet Tropics Bioregion, north of Townsville. The fauna of the area was previously poorly known and few surveys had been undertaken. Two week-long surveys were conducted per year between 1997 and 2002 for each of 31 survey sites comprising 15 regional ecosystems. Survey methods at each site included pitfall-traps, Elliott and cage traps, reptile searches, and one-hectare bird counts. Incidental data were also collected outside sample sites via spotlighting, harp trapping, trip-lines, ultrasonic bat detection, and general observations. A total of 7365 records representing 274 species of vertebrate fauna were recorded, comprising 158 bird species, 20 amphibians, 41 mammals and 55 reptiles. The total number of species including those recorded in other surveys is 294, which represents almost 50% of the vertebrate fauna species identified for the Wet Tropics Bioregion. Fourteen species are listed of conservation significance and several others are of regional significance. Relationships with regional ecosystems were investigated and many species were strongly associated with particular ecosystems. Seasonal variation and adequacy of survey methods were also examined. The results of this survey show that this area is at least as diverse and significant for fauna as any other part of the Wet Tropics {including rainforest). Hobby farming and agriculture is beginning to expand in these southern parts, where native vegetation is currently in good condition. Formation of a system of reserves for this area, as well as changes to the management of private lands, is essential in the very near future in order to prevent irreversible loss of a highly significant flora and fauna.

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