South-west Western Australia is an area with a high number of conservation listed marsupials (Maxwell et al. 1996). The presence of Gastrolobium (Fabaceae: Mirbelieae) plants, toxic to introduced species because of their production of fluoroacetate, is considered a significant contributory factor to the survival of mammal biodiversity within this region. One benefit attributed to these toxic plants is buffering the predatory impact of introduced carnivores, with native fauna becoming toxic to predators from feeding on the plants. This study supports the existence of this phenomenon and reports accounts from historical literature and from interviews with early rural residents of the region being: Twenty-six historical accounts of the poisoning of domestic cats (Felis catus) and dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) through consumption of the bones (n=11) and/or remains of bronzewing pigeons (Phaps chalcoptera and P. elegans). A further nineteen accounts were of poisoning arising from the remains of marsupial species such as the brush-tailed possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and boodie (Bettongia lesueur) and thirteen accounts of poisoning from remains of Gastrolobium poisoned sheep. Where recorded, toxicity is attributed to consumption of Gastrolobium plant material by the native species. These accounts are discussed in light of their contribution to the survival of critical weight range native fauna in these habitats. The reports indicate that increased emphasis on the maintenance and restoration of Gastrolobium plants and thickets through appropriate fire regimes is likely to aid survival of native fauna through improved shelter, food supply and secondary poisoning of introduced predators. Further research is warranted to confirm toxicity of native animals to introduced predators in remnant Gastrolobium habitat, and to monitor introduced predator survival.
Historical accounts of toxicity to introduced carnivores consuming bronzewing pigeons (Phaps chalcoptera and P. elegans) and other vertebrate fauna in south-west Western Australia
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David Peacock, Per Christensen, Brian Williams; Historical accounts of toxicity to introduced carnivores consuming bronzewing pigeons (Phaps chalcoptera and P. elegans) and other vertebrate fauna in south-west Western Australia. Australian Zoologist 1 January 2011; 35 (3): 826–842. doi: https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2011.034
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