National Wetlands Update September 2012
Issue No. 21, September 2012
Looking for mice in the mangroves
Cheryl Bolzenius, WetlandCare Australia
Staff from WetlandCare Australia undertaking
site surveys of water mouse mounds.
A nationally vulnerable water mouse has been discovered at a wetland rehabilitation site on the Maroochy River, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. The mouse (Xeromys myoides) was previously unknown at this site, until several nests were discovered in late 2011 by a worker from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS).
The water mouse inhabits coastal areas of central and south east Queensland, Northern Territory and New Guinea, and is typically found in coastal saltmarsh and mangrove areas. A key sign of their presence is their nesting mounds, which range from free-standing mounds in saltwater couch grasslands to sheltered mounds in opportunistic sites such as the base of old grey mangrove trees (Avicennia marina) located within the intertidal zone. The water mouse forages in the mangroves at night, feasting on invertebrates such as crabs, shellfish and snails. Loss, fragmentation and degradation of their mangrove and saltmarsh habitats are key threats to their survival.
The Maroochy River site includes mangrove, casuarina and saltmarsh communities and is part of WetlandCare Australia's Coastal 20 Wetlands Program. WetlandCare Australia is working with project coordinator Nina Kaluza, QPWS and community volunteers to survey and monitor water mice along a 1.7 kilometre stretch of the Maroochy River covering several land tenures. In total 132 nesting mounds have been located, mapped, and information recorded on their distribution, habitat preferences of water mice and potential threats including erosion and invasive weeds.
Water mice captured on motion sensor monitoring
cameras. (Nina Kaluza)
As part of this project, Traditional Owners are undertaking rehabilitation to address threats and protect this specialised mammal's habitat. Weed control along the banks of the Maroochy River is underway to remove broad-leaf pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolius), singapore daisy (Sphagneticola trilobata) and ground asparagus (Asparagus aethiopicus cv. Sprengeri). Mangroves are being propagated and reinstated to prevent further erosion of coastal saltmarsh. The habitat rehabilitation will also benefit many threatened and migratory species that rely on these vegetation communities.
WetlandCare Australia and the project team have formed linkages with other organisations undertaking similar water mouse projects in SE Queensland to share knowledge and information. Data collected through these projects will guide future conservation activities and support key actions identified in the national recovery plan for the water mouse.
The Coastal 20 Wetlands Program commenced in 2011 to celebrate WetlandCare's 20 years of achievement in wetland conservation. The Australian Government has committed a $2.5 million budget for the program through Caring for Our Country. The program involves working in partnership with community, government and industry to rehabilitate 20 important wetlands from Gladstone in southern Queensland to Kempsey on the northern NSW coast.
More detailed information on WetlandCare Australia's Coastal 20 Wetlands program can be found at WetlandCare Australia , on Facebook or contact WetlandCare Australia's Coastal 20 Coordinator Adam Gosling, phone (02) 6681 6169 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.