Effects of logging and fire on small mamals in Mumbulla State Forest near Bega, New South Wales
This study of the effects of logging on small mammals in Mumbulla State Forest on the south coast of New South Wales included the effects of a fire in November 1980 and a drought throughout the study period from June 1980 to June 1983. Rattus fuscipes was sensitive to change: logging had a significant impact on its numbers, response to ground cover, and recapture rate; fire had a more severe effect, and drought retarded the post-fire recovery of the population. The three species of dasyurid marsupials differed markedly in their response to ground cover, canopy cover, logging and fire. Antechinus stuartii was distributed evenly through all habitats and was not affected by logging, but fire had an immediate and adverse effect which was sustained by the intense drought. A. swainsonii markedly preferred the regenerating forest, and was not seen again after the fire, the failure of the population being attributed to its dependence on dense ground cover. Sminthopsis leucopus was found in low numbers, appeared to prefer forest with sparse ground cover, and showed no immediate response to logging or fire; its disappearance by the third year post-fire suggests that regenerating forest is inimical to the survival of this species. Mus musculus showed no response to logging. In the first year following the fire its numbers were still very low, but in the next year there was a short-lived plague which coincided with the only respite in the 3-year drought and, importantly, occurred in the intensely burnt parts of the forest. The options for managing this forest for the conservation of small mammals include minimising fire, retaining unlogged forest, extending the time over which alternate coupes are logged and minimising disturbance from heavy machinery.