Providing supplementary water for warru

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This week’s featured research article has just been published in Wildlife Research (authors include DEWNR and University of Adelaide staff) and tests the potential for supplementary water to support the recovery and reintroduction of the black-footed rock-wallaby in arid South Australia. The researchers aimed to determine whether warru would use supplementary water and therefore provide a tool to alleviate resource pressure for in situ (wild) and reintroduced warru populations. The study provided supplementary water to a wild and reintroduced warru population across 12 months. Drinking rates were calculated by monitoring water points with camera traps and modelled against plant moisture content and total rainfall. They also examined whether number of visits to water points by warru predators and competitors was significantly different to control points (no water present). Wild and reintroduced warru used water points within 0–10 days of installation. No significant increase in visits by predators or competitors was observed at water points. Drinking rates were significantly higher during dry winter months (March–October) for both wild and re-introduced populations. The researchers found that supplementary water is readily utilised by warru. Water could be provided in this manner to warru populations where predators are present, particularly during drier months, periods of drought or after fire, when food resources will have a lower water content and/or be less abundant. This may increase breeding rates and recruitment of young, and improve the probability of persistence for populations of this threatened species, and should be further investigated. The researchers conclude that supplementary water provision may be a useful tool to increase population growth rates for threatened mammalian herbivores in arid habitats. Experimental trials of the uptake of supplementary water and effects on population dynamics will provide important data for implementing adaptive management frameworks for conservation. The article can be downloaded here