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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Relative impacts of cattle grazing and feral animals on an Australian arid zone reptile and small mammal assemblage

Published source details

Read J.L. & Cunningham R. (2010) Relative impacts of cattle grazing and feral animals on an Australian arid zone reptile and small mammal assemblage. Austral Ecology, 35, 314-324


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Use fencing to exclude predators or other problematic species Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A site comparison study in 1993–2007 on a shrubland site in South Australia (Read & Cunningham 2010) found that using fencing to exclude feral mammals (cats Felis catus, foxes Vulpes vulpes and rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus) increased the abundance and species richness of small mammals. Small mammal abundance in the absence of feral mammals (10.3 individuals/sample) was higher than where feral mammals were present (3.6 individuals/sample). Species richness followed a similar pattern (feral mammals absent: 3.0 species/sample; feral mammals present: 1.7 species/sample). An area of approximately 5 × 5 km was fenced to exclude feral mammals and cattle in 1999. An adjacent area, approximately 9× 9 km, was fenced in 1986 to exclude cattle, but not feral mammals. Small mammals were sampled using pitfall traps for a 10-day period in either December or January. Three points in the feral mammal and cattle exclosure were sampled in 2007. Five points in the cattle-only exclosure were sampled in 1993–1996 and again in 2007.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)

Exclude livestock from semi-natural habitat (including woodland) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A site comparison study in 1993–2007 on a shrubland site in South Australia, Australia (Read & Cunningham 2010) found that excluding cattle increased abundances of small mammals compared to high intensity cattle grazing but not to medium or low grazing intensities. The average number of small mammals/sample at ungrazed points (3.6 individuals) was higher than with intensive cattle grazing (1.7 individuals) but not higher than the numbers with medium- (5.0) or low-intensity cattle grazing (7.7). Species richness followed a similar pattern (ungrazed: 1.7 species; intensive grazing: 1.2 species; medium grazing: 1.7, low intensity grazing: 2.2 species). Livestock were fenced out from an approximately 9 × 9-km area in 1986. Small mammals were sampled using pitfall traps for a 10-day period in either December or January 1993–1996 and again in 2007. Five points were sampled inside the enclosure (ungrazed) with 13 outside (grazed). Cattle grazing intensity was determined by dung counts. Low intensity grazing was <12 dung/ha, medium grazing was 12–100 dung/ha and intensive grazing was >120 dung/ha.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)